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Windham, Michael [1], Kao, Tzu-Tong [2], Hay, Nikolai [3], Rothfels, Carl [4], Schuettpelz, Eric [5], Pryer, Kathleen M. [6].

Rapid biodiversity assessment of ferns using low-tech spore observations on herbarium collections: an example from Notholaena (Pteridaceae).

With extinction rising to alarming levels, the need for accurate assessments of extant biodiversity has never been more urgent. Responding to this crisis, a number of academic institutions and NGOs have developed rapid assessment programs that send teams of scientists into threatened habitats to document species diversity as an essential first step towards informed conservation decisions. This regional approach is critical to our efforts to conserve biodiversity, but it needs to be supplemented by a clade-based approach that places all species in an evolutionary context. Assembling this broader view is a daunting task, but those of us working with plants have unparalleled (and largely untapped) resources at our disposal: herbaria. The herbarium collections of the world hold millions of preserved plant specimens representing five centuries of human commitment to documenting plant diversity, and there are myriad ways such specimens can contribute to our understanding of species diversity. Here, we focus on the use of relatively low-tech spore observations to document cryptic biodiversity in ferns. Among leptosporangiate ferns (comprising >90% of extant species), differences in spore size and spore number per sporangium within a particular clade are strongly correlated with ploidy level and reproductive mode. These, in turn, are directly relevant to the ability of populations to interbreed and thus are good indicators of cryptic biodiversity. In this presentation, we will explore the diversity of the cheilanthoid fern genus Notholaena, which includes about 40 named species found in Mexico, Andean South America, the Caribbean and the southwestern United States. Initial results suggest that the actual number of biologically relevant taxa may be up to 30% higher than the current taxonomy would suggest.

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1 - Duke University, Department Of Biology, Box 90338, Durham, NC, 27708, United States
2 - Duke University, Department of Biology, Box 90338, Durham, NC, 27708, USA
3 - Duke University, Biology, Campus Box 90338, Durham, NC, 27708, United States
4 - University of California, Berkeley, University and Jepson Herbaria and Department of Integrative Biology, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA
5 - Smithsonian Institution, Department Of Botany, MRC 166 PO Box 37012, Washington, DC, 20013, United States
6 - Duke University, Biology Department, Box 90338, Durham, NC, 27708, USA

Rapid Biodiversity Assessment
leptosporangiate ferns

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 32, Pteridology III
Location: 105/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Tuesday, July 24th, 2018
Time: 2:00 PM
Number: 32001
Abstract ID:897
Candidate for Awards:None

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