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Abstract Detail



Bryological and Lichenological Section/ABLS

Castle, Elizabeth [1], Robinson, Sean [2].

The Effect of Elevation on Reproductive Performance in Sphagnum fuscum.

Given the high metabolic cost associated with sexual reproduction, and the harsh conditions of alpine habitats, asexual reproduction is assumed, albeit untested, to be high in alpine plant populations. High rates of asexual reproduction are predicted to result in reduced levels of genetic variation, thereby reducing the adaptability of species over time. Given current concerns about climate change and its possible impact on such environments, alpine plant communities are thought to be at an evolutionary disadvantage. The alpine plant communities of the Adirondack High Peaks harbor a unique assemblage of alpine plant species that are highly disjunct from more extensive populations found to the north and northeast. In order to test the hypothesis that alpine populations exhibit a high degree of asexual reproduction, reproductive performance was assessed in a species of Sphagnum that occurs on the Adirondack alpine summits, Sphagnum fuscum. Samples of the species were collected from four high elevation sites within the Adirondacks and four low elevation sites, both in and outside of the Adirondacks. Genotypic diversity was inferred from variation at 16 microsatellite loci in 25 samples from low elevations and 24 samples from high elevations. In addition, 53 contemporary samples of S. fuscum from a number of high and low elevation sites in New York State, were examined to look for physical evidence of sexual reproduction (gametangia and sporophyte production). Genetic analyses done to date reveal low genetic diversity in alpine summit populations. Physical dissection of all collected material (low and high elevation sites) found gametangia in just one sample from the summit of Boundary Peak. Fewer sporophytes were found in summit collections (nine) compared to collections from low elevation sites (12). Further analyses are being conducted on this species in order to determine the extent of asexual reproduction in, and possible genetic isolation of, these unique plant populations.

Broader Impacts:


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1 - SUNY Oneonta, Biology, 6 1/2 Franklin St., Oneonta, NY, 13820, USA
2 - SUNY-Oneonta, Biology, 112 Science 1, SUNY-Oneonta, Oneonta, NY, 13820, USA

Keywords:
Sphagnum
reproductive performance
alpine plants
Adirondacks.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 23
Location: Ascot/Riverside Hilton
Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
Time: 9:45 AM
Number: 23004
Abstract ID:779
Candidate for Awards:None


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