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Tracking Tree Genes In Maryland Requires Helping Hands

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Scientists are hoping to enlist volunteers to track variations in Balsam Poplars in Maryland.
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Scientists are hoping to enlist volunteers to track variations in Balsam Poplars in Maryland.

The University of Maryland is mapping the genes of trees across the northern U.S., and they're looking for volunteers.

If climate change were more gradual, it might give trees the ability to develop mutations that would protect them. But it's not. In fact, climate change threatens one of the most rapid changes in temperature the earth has seen in millions of years. So how trees and forests respond is going to depend on genes and mutations that already exist. 

That's why scientists at the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science in Frostburg want to map the genetic variation of Balsam Poplar trees in northern forests, where temperature changes are expected to be severe. They want to find areas where, because of their genes, trees are more likely to survive earlier springs and warmer summers.

They'll combine genetic analyses with satellite maps, and they're reaching out for volunteers to help them monitor seasonal changes in growth. They hope to learn more about how forests are expected to change in coming years.

Citizens interested in getting involved are encouraged to send an email to citizen.science@al.umces.edu.

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