Sourcing plant species of local provenance (eco-sourcing) has become standard practice in plant-community restoration projects. Along with established ecological restoration practices, knowledge of genetic variation in existing and restored forest fragments is important for ensuring the maintenance of natural levels of genetic variation and connectivity (gene flow) among populations. The application of restoration genetics often employs anonymous ‘fingerprinting’ markers in combination with limited sample sizes due to financial constraints.
Variation in seedling growth and form between provenances of Podocarpus totara from 42 sites throughout New Zealand was investigated. Seedlings were grown for three years under uniform nursery conditions. There were significant differences between provenances in height growth in the first three years after sowing. Early growth was highly correlated with germination rate after sowing. In the third year, growth followed a different pattern and was negatively correlated with provenance latitude, i.e., provenances from southern latitudes grew more slowly than those from further north.
Provenance variation was studied in the growth and morphology of seedlings of silver beech (Nothofagus menziesii), red beech (N. fusca), hard beech (N. truncata), black beech (N. solandri: var. solandri:), and mountain beech (N. solandri: var. cliffortioides). Seedlings were grown for 2_ years in replicated provenance experiments at Rangiora and Rotorua.