High-throughput sequencing reveals distinct regional genetic structure among remaining populations of an endangered salt marsh plant in California

Conservation Genetics
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Abstract

Conservation of rare species requires careful consideration to both preserve locally adapted traits and maintain genetic diversity, as species’ ranges fluctuate in response to a changing climate and habitat loss. Salt marsh systems in California have been highly modified and many salt marsh obligate species have undergone range reductions and habitat loss with concomitant losses of genetic diversity and connectivity. Remaining salt marshes are threatened by rising sea levels, and so these habitats will likely require active restoration and re-establishment efforts. This study aims to provide a reference point for the current status of genetic diversity and range-wide population structure of a federally and state listed endangered plant, Salt Marsh Bird’s Beak (Chloropyron maritimum subsp. maritimum) that can inform future preservation and restoration efforts. We used historical data and current monitoring information to locate and sample all known occurrences throughout the species range in Southern California, and three additional occurrences from Baja California, Mexico. We used flow cytometry and single nucleotide polymorphic markers (SNPs), generated by double-digest restriction-site associated DNA sequencing (ddRAD), to assess relative ploidy, and estimate genetic diversity and population structure across the region. Overall, we found four to five distinct genetic clusters that coincide with geographic regions. Genetic diversity was greatest in the southern part of the range including Baja California and San Diego. These findings can bolster management and restoration efforts by identifying potentially isolated occurrences and areas that are rich sources of allelic diversity, and by providing insight into the amount of genetic differentiation across the species range.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title High-throughput sequencing reveals distinct regional genetic structure among remaining populations of an endangered salt marsh plant in California
Series title Conservation Genetics
DOI 10.1007/s10592-020-01269-3
Volume 21
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 13 p.
First page 547
Last page 559
Country United States
State California
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