Conservation Genetics

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 87–99

Allozyme diversity in the federally threatened golden paintbrush, Castilleja levisecta (Scrophulariaceae)



Castilleja levisecta (Scrophulariaceae), the golden paintbrush, is an insect-pollinated herbaceaous perennial found in the Pacific Northwest. Currently restricted to two island populations off British Columbia and nine populations (eight on islands) in Washington, C. levisecta is a rare species threatened with extinction. Allozymes were used to describe genetic diversity and structure in these eleven populations. Despite its threatened status and small geographic range, exceptionally high levels of genetic diversity are maintained within C. levisecta. All sixteen of the loci resolved were polymorphic within the species (Ps=100%), while the mean percentage of loci polymorphic within populations (Pp) was 65.7%. The mean number of alleles per polymorphic locus (APs) was 2.94 within the species and averaged 2.38 within populations (APp). Genetic diversity (Hes) was 0.285 for the species, whereas mean population genetic diversity (Hep) was 0.213. Smaller populations had, on average, fewer observed alleles and less genetic diversity. A significant negative correlation (r = −0.72) was found between genetic identity and geographic distance, indicating reduced gene flow between distant populations. The most geographically isolated population was one of the larger populations, one of the most genetically diverse and the most genetically divergent. A wide range of pairwise population genetic identities (I = 0.771 − 0.992) was found, indicating considerable genetic divergence between some populations. Overall, 19% of the total genetic diversity was distributed among populations. Results of this survey indicate that genetic augmentation of existing populations is unnecessary. The high allelic diversity found for the species and within its populations holds promise for conservation and restoration efforts to save this rare and threatened plant species.


endangered genetic diversity rare reintroduction restoration 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Jo W. Godt
    • 1
  • Florence Caplow
    • 2
  • J.L. Hamrick
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Washington Natural Heritage ProgramWashington Department of Natural ResourcesOlympiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeneticsUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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