Location: Forage and Range Research
Title: Identifying geographically based metapopulations for development of plant materials indigenous to rangeland ecosystems of the western USA Authors
Submitted to: Progress in Botany
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 16, 2012
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Rangelands in the Great Basin Region of the western USA are facing unprecedented challenges related to wildfire, invasive weeds, and other disturbances. The development and availability of effective, affordable plant materials are critical to rangeland restoration/revegetation efforts. Common-garden evaluations and DNA genotyping techniques were used to determine the structure of genetic diversity in three North American rangeland legumes (basalt milkvetch, western prairie clover, and Searls' prairie clover) from the Great Basin. Results from this research indicated that local collections of these legumes can be geographically grouped for use in developing plant materials for the commercial seed trade. This information can be used to reduce the number of populations that seed companies need to produce and lead to more affordable seed for private and public land managers in their rangeland restoration/revegetation projects. Similar techniques can be used in the development of plant materials for other rangeland plant species.
Technical Abstract: Rangeland ecosystems account for about half of the earth's land surface. They play an important role in providing forage for livestock and wildlife, and they serve as critical watershed areas. Many of the world's rangelands have been degraded by overgrazing, marginal crop production, mineral and energy extraction, recreation, and other human-caused disturbances. This degradation has led to invasion by exotic weeds and subsequent increases in fire frequency. This, in combination with uncertainties associated with global climatic change, has resulted in a critical need for plant materials to restore and revegetate rangeland ecosystems. Common-garden studies and DNA genotyping were used to describe genetic diversity in three rangeland legume species indigenous to rangeland ecosystems of the Great Basin Region of the western USA. Results of these studies are presented as three case studies that describe the data collection procedures, analysis, and interpretation used to identify population structures in each species. These data formed the basis for the identification of geographically based metapopulations in these three legume species that can be used to develop plant materials for commercial seed production.