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Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

Jolls, Claudia [1], Fortner, A. Renee [1], Goodwillie, Carol [1], Dietrick, Erika M. [1].

Critical biological knowledge for conservation of Cooley’s meadowrue, a rare perennial of pocosin-savanna ecotones.

Effective conservation efforts can be limited by sufficient knowledge of rare species biology. Thalictrum cooleyi Ahles (Cooley’s meadowrue, Ranunculaceae) is a federally endangered dioecious herb of wet pine savannas of the southeastern US; little is known of its life history and ecology. We studied aspects of the reproductive ecology of T. cooleyi its association with woody species, and genetic structure in 11 populations North Carolina and Georgia. This species appears negatively associated with canopy closure, but positively associated with shrub cover, i.e., the nitrogen-fixing wax myrtle Morella cerifera. Deviations from strict dioecy are uncommon in T. cooleyi. Although populations are male-biased, supplementation experiments found evidence for pollen limitation to seed set in this wind-pollinated taxon. Germination rates were low, likely due to low seed viability. Seed dormancy can be broken by cold stratification. High temperature stratification as associated with fire does not appear to increase germinability. Thalictrum cooleyi can be readily propagated by seed or vegetatively from caudex and rhizome divisions. Genetic diversity within and among populations appears low, as suggested by AFLP analyses. Although North Carolina and Georgia populations are distinct genetically, our limited data do not support hypotheses of separate species status or hybrid swarms. Major challenges to the recovery of T. cooleyi include the loss of habitat associated with closure of open pine savanna to dense forest, low seed set associated with limited pollen availability, poor seed viability, and possibly low genetic diversity within populations.

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1 - EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY, Department Of Biology, Mail Stop 551, GREENVILLE, NC, 27858, USA

seed germination
endangered plant species

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 48, Conservation Biology II
Location: 204/Savannah International Trade and Convention Center
Date: Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
Time: 2:00 PM
Number: 48002
Abstract ID:613
Candidate for Awards:None

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