CONSERVATION GENETICS OF A RARE ENDEMIC ALPINE FLOWER, POTENTILLA ROBBINSIANA, IN THE WHITE MOUNTAINS OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

dc.contributor.authorVOLLMER, HANNAH
dc.date.accessioned2024-05-14T18:25:37Z
dc.date.available2024-05-14T18:25:37Z
dc.date.issued2024-05
dc.description.abstractABSTRACT Alpine zones in the White Mountains of New Hampshire are small, isolated ecosystems that are considered relicts of the widespread tundra following the last ice age. The diminutive flowering plant Potentilla robbinsiana (dwarf cinquefoil) is endemic to a hectare of alpine habitat in New Hampshire’s White Mountains and is hundreds of kilometers from its closest kin, the common circumpolar P. hyparctica. After a century of unchecked botanical collection and recreational impacts, P. robbinsiana approached extinction, but habitat closure, transplanting, and hiker education helped make this plant an Endangered Species Act success story. Odd-number polyploidy, cytological and pollination studies, and isozymes support the assumption that P. robbinsiana is apomictic and genetically uniform. We set out to determine how much genetic diversity, if any, is present among P. robbinsiana plants (both extant and preserved as herbarium specimens) and to determine whether this species is genetically distinct from P. hyparctica. We conducted ddRADseq (double digest restriction site-associated DNA sequencing) on 144 freshly collected P. robbinsiana samples, along with historic herbarium samples of P. robbinsiana (n=32), P. hyparctica (n=32), and two Potentilla outgroup species, mapping 2.1% of our reads to Fragaria vesca nuclear, chloroplast, and mitochondrial genomes. We found evidence of diversity in P. robbinsiana with 306 allelic sites across 57 loci. Observed heterozygosity in the nuclear genome was low suggesting subpopulations have deviated from Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium. Nuclear and organellar diversity estimates show that the largest population and one of the two transplant populations have highest diversity. This transplant population is most representative of the species’ diversity as a whole as shown by F-statistics. Some alleles found in historic herbarium plants were not present in extant plants, but the number of unique alleles found in a transplant population far exceeded these. Our current data do not support P. robbinsiana and P. hyparctica as distinct, monophyletic species, but our study species is more genetically diverse than previously thought and we recommend that future conservation plans should reflect this. Further phylogenetic work should attempt to refine relationships between P. robbinsiana and P. hyparctica. Transplantation attempts should use seed sourced from multiple locations so as to better represent the species’ genetic variation.
dc.description.sponsorshipDiana Jolles Brigid O’Donnell Lisa Doner
dc.identifier.urihttps://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12774/480
dc.titleCONSERVATION GENETICS OF A RARE ENDEMIC ALPINE FLOWER, POTENTILLA ROBBINSIANA, IN THE WHITE MOUNTAINS OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
dc.typeThesis
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