Annals of Forest Science

, 75:69 | Cite as

Geographic variation in growth, survival, and susceptibility to the processionary moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa Dennis & Schiff.) of Pinus halepensis Mill. and P. brutia Ten.: results from common gardens in Morocco

  • Hassan Sbay
  • Rafael Zas
Research Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Mediterranean Pines


Key message

Adaptation of Pinus brutia and Pinus halepensis to harsh Moroccan environments varied considerably among populations, with variation following marked geographic clines.


Mediterranean pines are drought tolerant species that play relevant ecological and economic roles in North Africa. Mediterranean pines harbor huge intraspecific variation in adaptive traits.


Exploring the relative performance of different seed sources and analyzing the genotype by environment (G × E) interaction becomes, thus, essential for maximizing the efficiency of any reforestation program.


We present the results of a comprehensive quantitative analysis of growth, survival, and resistance to the processionary moth of 57 populations of P. halepensis Mill. and P. brutia Ten. tested under severe drought conditions in two contrasting Moroccan test sites differing in water regime, soil, and physiographic conditions.


The results indicated the existence of considerable variation between species and among populations within species in growth, survival, and susceptibility to the processionary moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa Dennis & Schiff.), but low plasticity across sites, despite the apparently large environmental differences between them. On average, P. brutia performed better than P. halepensis. The G × E interaction was significant for all traits and ages, but an in-depth analysis revealed that the main source of the interaction was due to large differences in residual variances across sites, while the relative population ranks remained highly consistent across sites.


Growth and survival of Aleppo pine populations followed well-defined geographical clines, with populations from the Eastern range of the distribution, particularly those of Greece, showing outstanding performance. The two local Aleppo pine populations were, however, also among the best-growing and surviving populations. Superiority of Eastern Aleppo pine populations was not considered high enough to recommend their use in reforestation programs. Aiming to preserve local genetic resources, local seed sources are preferred for reforestation in the dry areas of Morocco. Planting middle to high elevation Turkish populations of the non-native P. brutia is also an alternative, especially in more mesic sites. The reduced G × E suggests that the above recommendations may be valid, even in the context of future climate change.


Mediterranean pines Intraspecific genetic variation Population differentiation Phenotypic plasticity Genotype by environment interaction Drought Herbivory resistance Pest resistance Climate change 



The authors would like to thank SL. El Alami, A. Mrasli, T. Tahri, A. Lamnouar, A. Attaoui, M. Ghafour, M. Bouajaji, and M. Ghadfaoui for their contribution on this big step forward in halepensis-complex pine species genetic research in Morocco. Asier Larrinaga and Gloria Bustingorri are also acknowledged for their help preparing the maps and figures. Luis Sampedro, Jordi Voltas, Asier Larrinaga, and three anonymous referees contributed with valuable suggestions on earlier versions of the manuscript. We also thank David Brown for reviewing the language.


This research was founded by the National Forest Research Centre budget in Morocco. RZ received support from the Grant FUTURPIN AGL2015-68274-C03-02R founded by the Spanish Research National Plan MINECO/FEDER.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

13595_2018_746_MOESM1_ESM.docx (287 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 287 kb)


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Forest Research Centre (CRF)RabatMorocco
  2. 2.Misión Biológica de GaliciaConsejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (MBG-CSIC)PontevedraSpain

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