Abstract Detail

Hybrids and Hybridization

Winkler, Daniel [1], Reed, Sasha [1], Massatti, Rob [2].

An unexpected hybrid in our midst and the need to refine our toolkit to improve dryland restoration.

Achieving restoration goals in drylands is often hindered by a lack of scientific information regarding what seed sources of which species can successfully be planted where. This is especially true in the western US where scientists and practitioners are working to understand the mechanisms that enable plant establishment, connections to underlying ecological processes and management practices, and, importantly, interactions with contemporary and future climate change. Here, we focus our discussion on drylands around the globe using a novel case study from the western US to demonstrate the many considerations needed for developing a well-informed restoration toolkit. We use next-generation sequencing data of a dominant graminoid, Hilaria jamesii, to assess population genetic patterns across this species’ range. We include the only commercially-available restoration material of the species and related taxa to demonstrate how challenging it can be to provide scientifically sound information to managers and practitioners. Molecular analyses demonstrate that the only commercially-available native plant material of H. jamesii (a.k.a. ‘Viva’) is a hybrid between H. jamesii and its sister species, H. mutica. In fact, hybrids between these species are common where they geographically overlap. This is problematic because the ‘Viva’ hybrid has now been moved beyond the natural hybrid zone and into the core range of H. jamesii. We discuss the potential ramifications of introducing novel genetic variation into H. jamesii, as well as the utility of genetic analyses to protect natural patterns of genetic diversity and to support managers informed decisions regarding the development and deployment of native plant materials. Novel methodologies such as those used here may help restoration programs achieve goals at larger spatial scales and longer time scales by reducing overlap, pooling existing resources and knowledge, and increasing efficiency. Continued research efforts in the western US and in drylands around the globe remain a pressing need to best achieve effective restoration targets. Overall, progress is needed soon, as the threats of climate change, invasive species, and biodiversity loss continue to affect dryland systems across the globe.

Related Links:
Peer reviewed publication

1 - US Geological Survey, 2290 S West Resource Boulevard, Moab, UT, 84532, United States
2 - U.S. Geological Survey, 2255 N. Gemini Drive, Flagstaff, AZ, 86001, United States

Colorado Plateau
native plant material
genetic variation
hybrid zone
Hilaria jamesii
Hilaria mutica
Restoration ecology
climate change
desert plants.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: HYHY1, Hybrids and Hybridization
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2020
Time: 12:30 PM
Number: HYHY1001
Abstract ID:384
Candidate for Awards:Margaret Menzel Award

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