Gayle M. Volk, USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation, 1111 S. Mason St., Fort Collins, CO USA 80521 (

Tara L. Moreau, University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, 6804 SW Marine Drive, VancouverBC Canada V6T 1Z4 (

Patrick F. Byrne, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado USA 80523 (


Learner Types

The eBook was written for the following target audiences:

  • General learners and students
  • Plant collections staff, technical employees, and managers
  • Instructor/teachers

Learning Objectives

The objective of this eBook is to introduce climate change and its impacts on plant collections, agriculture, and conservation of plant genetic resources.


Agriculture, agrobiodiversity, climate change, conservation, ex situ plant collections, plant breeding, plant genetic resources


The importance of (PGRFA) cannot be overstated. They are critical for agriculture productivity, environmental resiliency, and food security, both for today and the future. Climate change presents a myriad of challenges for successful conservation of plant genetic resources and long-term plant collections management. 

 (genebanks, seed banks, botanic gardens, and public gardens) maintain vast amounts of PGRFA. In the face of biodiversity loss and climate change, ex situ plant collections are critical to prevent extinction and to offer novel forms of plant genetic diversity that can be evaluated, screened, and utilized for breeding programs to develop new varieties. Plants will respond differently to climate change and the benefits of being able to develop new varieties of food crops with unique genetic traits will be increasingly important. Managing plant collections and in the uncertainty of changing climatic conditions will require site-specific considerations, planning, and action.


This eBook aims to support current and future plant genetic resource managers as they consider the impacts of climate change on plants, agriculture, agrobiodiversity, and plant collections. Our goal is to provide information for readers to learn, understand, plan, and anticipate climate change extremes and how they might impact plant conservation and ex situ collections. Developing plans and preparing management and decision-making processes for dealing with the effects of climate change aligns with many sustainability practices and brings forward skills and techniques for forecasting and .

In this eBook, we focus on introducing broad ideas, tools, and tactics to support ex situ plant collection managers in building . We summarize the impacts of climate change on agriculture and , and present a series of chapters that highlight important considerations of a complex landscape, including:

  • Chapter 1 Understanding how climate changes impacts agriculture and food systems
  • Chapter 2Identifying the importance of plants in both mitigating and adapting to climate change
  • Chapter 3 Understanding the need and value of ex situ plant collections for providing solutions that address the effects of climate change
  • Chapter 4 – Understanding how climate change affects plant interactions with pollinators, pathogens, and pests
  • Chapter 5Describing methods and opportunities for plant breeding to respond to climate change
  • Chapter 6 Considering climate change impacts on plant collections management
  • Chapter 7 Learning to develop plans that address the vulnerabilities of climate change

This information serves as an overview of a complex subject that includes the impacts of climate change on agricultural productivity and the critical roles that plant collections have in and to a changing climate. A greater understanding of these key topics will provide critical insights into the planning necessary to ensure that food plant genetic resources are conserved for current and future generations.

about this ebook

The eBook “Conserving and Using Climate-Ready Plant Collections” was developed through a collaboration between the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, Colorado State University, and the United States Department of Agriculture.

This eBook contains chapters that can be accessed in any order. Click on “Contents” in the upper left corner and then expand “Main Body” to access chapter titles; scrolling might be necessary to view all chapter titles. Chapters can also be navigated by using arrows at the bottom of each page. Chapters might have text, images, video, and interactive content on a single page.

Material can be used free of charge, in the online format, for personal use or for trainings and courses for students and/or employees. If you wish to make modifications to the content or download other versions, please contact the authors.

Mention of trade names or commercial products in this eBook is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Icon for the Public Domain license

This work (Conserving and Using Climate-Ready Plant Collections by Gayle M. Volk; Tara L. Moreau; and Patrick F. Byrne) is free of known copyright restrictions.

Share This Book