Estimation of genetic parameters for height using spatial analysis in Tsuga heterophylla full-sibling family trials in British Columbia

Eduardo Pablo Cappa 1 , 2 , 3 , A. D. Yanchuk 4  and C. V. Cartwright 4
  • 1 Department of Forest Sciences, 2424 Main Mall, University of British Columbia, , Vancouver, Canada
  • 2 British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range, Research Branch, PO Box 9519 Stn Prov Govt, , Victoria, Canada
  • 3 Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA), Instituto de Recursos Biológicos, De Los Reseros y Dr. Nicolás Repetto s/n, 1686, Hurlingham, Buenos Aires, Argentina - Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), , Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • 4 British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range, Research Branch, PO Box 9519 Stn Prov Govt, , Victoria, Canada


Non-spatial and spatial analyses were carried out to study the effects on genetic parameters in ten-year height growth data across two series of 10 large second-generation full-sib progeny trials of western hemlock [Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg.] in British Columbia. To account for different and complex patterns of environmental heterogeneity, spatial single trial analyses were conducted using an individual-tree mixed model with a two-dimensional smoothing surface with tensor product of B-spline bases. The spatial single trial analysis, in all cases, showed sizeable lower Deviance Information Criterion values relative to the non-spatial analysis. Also, fitting a surface displayed a consistent reduction in the posterior mean as well as a decrease in the standard deviations of error variance, no appreciable changes in the additive variance, an increase of individual narrow-sense heritability, and accuracy of breeding values. The tensor product of cubic basis functions of B-spline based on a mixed model framework does provide a useful new alternative to model different and complex patterns of spatial variability within sites in forest genetic trials. Individual narrow-sense heritabilities estimates from the spatial single trial analyses were low (average of 0.06), but typical of this species. Estimated dominance relative to additive variances were unstable across sites (from 0.00 to 1.59). The implications of these estimations will be discussed with respect to the western hemlock genetic improvement program in British Columbia.

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