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Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

Mashburn, Brock [1], Jhangeer-Khan, Reshad [2], Begue, Alfred [2], Tatayah, Vikash [3], Edwards, Christine [4].

Title: Genetic analysis to guide ex situ conservation efforts for the critically endangered, oceanic island-endemic, Hibiscus liliflorus.

Islands across the globe are known for their unique biodiversity, which largely arose through dispersal and allopatric speciation. As a result of this process, as much as one-quarter of vascular plant species are endemic to islands. For example, in Hibiscus section Lilibiscus (Malvaceae), a clade of ca. 23 species has diversified on tropical islands from Madagascar to Hawaii, with only two species occupying mainlands. However, like most island-endemic species, many insular Hibiscus species have experienced major declines because of anthropogenic habitat destruction and degradation. Rodrigues, a small, 108 km2 island in the Indian Ocean is a perfect example of these threats: most native vegetation has been lost and a majority of the remaining species are critically endangered. Rodrigues hosts a single endemic Hibiscus species, H. liliiflorus, which was nearly driven to extinction. To develop an ex-situ population to protect the remaining species, the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation (MWF) took cuttings from the remaining 4-5 wild plants over 20 years ago. These cuttings were planted near the MWF nursery, but the records documenting the provenance of cuttings were later lost. Seeds produced by the ex-situ population have been planted in nearby forest reserves, but in the same period one or more wild parent plants died, leaving only two surviving wild individuals. To assess the remaining genetic diversity and guide conservation efforts for H. liliflorus, we genotyped the wild, cultivated, and out-planted progeny that arose from the cultivated individuals. We sampled 123 individuals and genotyped them using a RAD-seq approach. Analysis of the wild and ex-situ plants identified four wild genotypes, three of which exist in ex-situ collections, and one of which is a wild individual that has not been cloned. Out-planted individuals are all F1 progeny of the three genotypes found in the MWF nursery, with one genotype serving as a parent in the majority of progeny. Based on our results, efforts are underway to propagate the fourth wild genotype in the ex-situ collection.   Once the individual is reproductive, the resulting progeny from the individual will be used to increase the genetic diversity of outplantings to help prevent inbreeding. Our study highlights the utility of straightforward and cost-effective genotyping approaches to guide conservation efforts to protect as much of the remaining genetic diversity as possible for a critically endangered species. If not for our analysis, one of four remaining wild individuals of H. liliflorus would eventually be lost forever.

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1 - 3900A Fairvew Ave, St. Louis, MO, 63116, United States
2 - Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, Rodrigues, Forestry Quarters, Solitude, Rodrigues, R5128, Republic of Mauritius
3 - Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, Conservation Director, Grannum Road, Vacoas, 73418, Mauritius
4 - Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Ave., St. Louis, MO, 63110, United States

conservation genetics
Mascarene Islands

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: CB02, Conservation Biology 2
Location: /
Date: Wednesday, July 21st, 2021
Time: 1:00 PM(EDT)
Number: CB02003
Abstract ID:856
Candidate for Awards:None

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