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Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

Havrilla, Caroline Ann [1], Nakazato, Takuya [2], Wood, Troy [3].

Landscape genetics of native plant species in Arches and Canyonlands National Park for restoration of degraded grasslands.

The grasslands of the Colorado Plateau have been severely degraded by overgrazing, human activities, and soil erosion, and their ecosystem structure and function urgently need to be restored. Reintroduction of native species to the degraded areas is effective, but we lack genetic data for these species that are vital to effective restoration strategies. Here we investigated the landscape genetics of three high-priority native grassland species: Achnatherum hymenoides, Sporobolus cryptandrus, and Sphaeralcea parvifolia, which have been identified for use in the restoration of the Colorado Plateau. We utilized AFLP genotypes and geographic information of their natural populations to assess their genetic population structure and to identify loci potentially under natural selection induced by elevation, a key proxy for local climate. We detected moderate population differentiation and geographic clustering of related populations for A. hymenoides and S. cryptandrus, typical of self-pollinating grass species. Also, the Colorado River was found to be a significant barrier to gene flow between populations. S. parvifolia, on the other hand, showed little evidence of population differentiation or geographic stratification,likely explained by the extensive between-population gene flow, mediated by bee-pollination. For each species, we found a small number of AFLP loci associated with the elevation of the populations, suggesting that elevation-related climatic factors have likely induced adaptation of these species to their local environments. Our findings imply that local A. hymenoides and S. cryptandrus populations near the restoration sites, particularly in regards to the Colorado River and elevation,should be used for habitat restoration to maintain the natural population structure. On the other hand, the S.parvifolia populations in the study sites can be considered a large meta-population, and therefore, the population localities are unlikely of a great importance when implementing habitat restoration.

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1 - The University of Memphis, Biological Sciences , 3700 Walker Avenue, Memphis, TN, 38152, USA
2 - University of Memphis, Department of Biology, 3774 Walker Avenue, Memphis, TN, 38152, USA
3 - Northern Arizona University , Colorado Plateau Research Station, 1298 S Knoles, Bldg 56, Suite, Flagstaff, AZ, 86011, USA

Colorado Plateau
population genetics
Sporobolus cryptandrus
Achnatherum hymenoides
Sphaeralcea parvifolia.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Session: 20
Location: Marlborough A/Riverside Hilton
Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
Time: 8:30 AM
Number: 20001
Abstract ID:88
Candidate for Awards:None

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