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North American Forest Genetics Society


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First Announcement - NAFGS Biennial Meeting

The first biennial meeting of the North American Forest Genetics Society will be held at Asilomar Conference Center on June 15-19, 2020. The meeting will take place from Tuesday June 16 to Thursday June 18, with check in on Monday afternoon June 15 and departure on Friday morning June 19. All presentations will be contributed presentations. A second announcement will provide a link to submit title and authors for contributed presentations. Wednesday June 17 will be an all-day field trip to visit old growth redwood forests, native Monterey pine forests and more. Currently, 125 accommodation spaces (single or double rooms) have been reserved at Asilomar. Please indicate if you are planning to attend and whether you prefer a single or double room. Feel free to contact David Neale (dbneale@ucdavis.edu) if you have any questions about this first meeting of the NAFGS.

Are you interested in attending the NAFGS Biennial Meeting on June 15-19, 2020?

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Special Retirement Symposium for David Neale

The first meeting of the newly proposed North American Forest Genetics Society was announced last week by Dr. David Neale. As noted in the Societies webpage:

"It seems timely that the discipline now be served by a single society that seeks to coordinate activities among regional groups and develop a strong and unified voice that advocates more effectively for the discipline."

Dr. Neale will be retiring from the University of California, Davis shortly after the meeting. As close colleagues of Dr. Neale we believe this meeting would provide an excellent opportunity for the community to celebrate Dave's contributions to our discipline following an extraordinary career as a Professor and researcher in the field of forest genetics.

We invite the community to join us on the final day of the meeting (Thursday, June 18th) for a symposium and evening celebration in beautiful Pacific Grove, California (Asilomar Conference Center). We will work closely with the organizers of the NAFGS meeting to streamline both events.

We will be inviting talks from students, postdocs, and close collaborators for the full day event.

Please mark your calendars for the full NAFGS event (June 16-18, 2020) and we will be sending more information as we get closer to the event. We look forward to celebrating with everyone!

-Zeki Kaya, Nick Wheeler, and Jill Wegrzyn

The Evolution of Forest Genetics and Tree Improvement Research in the United States (Wheeler et al. 2015)

Abstract: Forest genetics (FG) research in the United States began more than 100 years ago with racial (seed source) trials of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Douglas ex C. Lawson) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii [Mirb.] Franco) and over the ensuing four decades gradually emerged as a distinct and important discipline of study within the forestry research community. Coupled with the allied field of tree improvement (TI), the discipline enjoyed rapid and expansive growth for more than 30 years beginning in the early 1950s. The subsequent 30 years witnessed an equally dramatic contraction and transformation of the FG/TI community. We review the economic, social, and policy factors that contributed to the decline of FG/TI and the transformation to a discipline that now includes a strong ecosystem management component. Cautionary lessons are coupled with a call for enhanced funding of traditional and genomic FG/TI efforts in the face of growing forest health and climate change threats that are having profound effects in the nation's forests.

Management and Policy Implications: We propose that a balanced and broad-based model should be used to fund and support future FG/TI/EM research in the United States. Three essential elements should be included in the model: long- and short-term funding, a coordinating board to guide funding, and education. A balance of long-term support for applied tree improvement research in support of forest and ecosystem health and short-term support for biotechnology, genomic, and ecosystem management research is needed for maximum benefits. We advocate formation of a national coordinating board, akin to the National Plant Board, which would work in a strategic manner with stakeholders, Congress, and grant funding programs at the National Science Foundation, US Department of Agriculture, and Department of Energy so that the investments made by long-term and short-term funders are made in a balanced and coordinated manner, addressing key forest health threats. There is precedent for the policy role of such interagency or interinstitutional committees in many areas of science that have not been applied to forestry and specifically forest genetics research. Emphasis on education of the American public, specifically grades K through 12, is key to alerting the nation to the importance of ecosystem health challenges and natural resources management issues. More tree geneticists with breeding experience are required to meet the long-term needs.