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Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

McGlaughlin, Mitchell [1], Schwabe, Anna [2], Hubbard, Ashley [3], Neale, Jennifer [4].

Genetic circumscription of threatened Sclerocactus (Cactaceae); what does it mean to be a species?

Diagnosing accurate taxonomic groups is key to successful management and recovery efforts for threatened and endangered species because it enables managers to understand if a taxon is rare and needs management, and it identifies where to manage for a species. Sclerocactus (Cactaceae) is composed of cylindric cacti that tend to be exceptionally cold and drought tolerant. Taxonomic uncertainty at species and varietal levels can be traced to a lack of clear discontinuity in often plastic morphological characters, yet most agree that numerous rare and endemic forms in the group warrant taxonomic recognition, and in many cases protection. We examined genetic structure within and among three threatened (S. brevispinus, S. glaucus, and S. wetlandicus) and one common (S. parviflorus) species of Sclerocactus in Colorado and Utah to enhance management. Samples were analyzed using 10 shared microsatellite loci which allows for broad comparisons of the genetic circumscription of Sclerocactus members. Sclercocactus brevispinus and S. wetlandicus were not found to be genetically distinct, with the location of the Green River leading to more significant genetic structure than traditional morphology based taxonomic boundaries. Sclerocactus glaucus contained two distinctive genetic groups that were also structured based on geography, but lack obvious morphological differences. In contrast, all samples of S. parviflorus were genetically cohesive despite wide geographic sampling. These results demonstrate that landscape features can lead to significant to genetic structure in the threatened taxa, but genetic cohesion across large distances is possible. Genetic data will continue to be an important tool to direct effective management in taxonomically difficult groups such as Sclerocactus.

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1 - University Of Northern Colorado, 501 20th St, Box 92, Greeley, CO, 80639, United States
2 - 122 53rd Ave, Greeley, CO, 80634, United States
3 - 802 E.21st Street, Greeley, CO, 80631, United States
4 - Denver Botanic Gardens, Research & Conservation, 909 York Street, Denver, CO, 80206, United States

Conservation Genetics

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 40, Conservation Biology I
Location: 106/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Wednesday, July 25th, 2018
Time: 9:15 AM
Number: 40004
Abstract ID:911
Candidate for Awards:None

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