A long-term study on coastal basswoods published by Professor of Biology Jon Evans and Middle Tennessee State University Professor Ashley Morris, C’97, was featured as a noteworthy article in the September issue of the American Journal of Botany. Evans and Morris examined the demography and genetic structure of coastal basswood (Tilia americana var. caroliniana) populations on back-barrier islands along the Georgia coast of the United States.
Over a 10-year period, they found that the cycling of basal sprouts promoted population maintenance, despite the absence of new individuals produced from seeds. Their assessment of the genetic structure of these populations suggested that the basswood trees on the these islands have likely been isolated for at least 2,400 years due to sea level rise.
Evans and Morris concluded that sprouting behavior can influence the composition of future plant communities, allow a population to persist through periods of unfavorable environmental conditions, and maintain some genetic diversity in populations with limited sexual reproduction.