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Title: Shortleaf Pine: A Species at Risk?

Summary: Oklahoma State University and the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station genetics researchers have over the last five years teamed up to examine the occurrence of natural hybridization between shortleaf pine and loblolly pine.  We have found that hybridization frequency varied geographically, from 0% to 30% among seed sources, and that hybrids occurred in places like Missouri and Pennsylvania where loblolly pine does not occur naturally.  The hybridization level was higher in populations west of the Mississippi River than east of the river for both species. Results suggest that the hybridization level between these two species is significant and varies by seed source and species.  The potential for current management, i.e. extensive loblolly pine planting at the expense of shortleaf pine, to greatly increase hybridization levels is real and is being examined.  Results clearly show that forest management plans need to consider the possibility of interspecies hybridization and maintenance of shortleaf pine diversity when planting recommendations are developed.
Chuck Tauer, Professor of Forestry, Department of Natural Resource Ecology & Management, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma

Dr. Chuck Tauer received his doctorate from the University of Minnesota in 1976.  He served on the faculty of the Department of Forestry at Oklahoma State University from 1976 to 2006 and the newly created Department of Natural Resource Ecology & Management as professor since then. He teaches Dendrology and Ecological Genetics, and conducts research on population and quantitative forest genetics questions using molecular methods.  Dr. Tauer has received The Forest Heritage Award for Significant Achievement in Research in Oklahoma, been named the Outstanding Forestry Professor in teaching by the students twice, appointed by the Governor to serve on the Oklahoma Board of Registration for Forester 2003-2008 and was reappointed 2008-2013, named recipient of the Oklahoma Division, Ouachita Society of American Foresters’ Award for Outstanding Achievement in Biological Research in 2003 and the Foresters’ Award for Outstanding Achievement in Technology Transfer in 2007.  He has published well over 100 journal articles and papers, as well as given many invited and volunteer presentation in his 33 years in academia.