Restoration genetics of the vernal pool endemic Lasthenia conjugens (Asteraceae)
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- Ramp, J.M., Collinge, S.K. & Ranker, T.A. Conserv Genet (2006) 7: 631. doi:10.1007/s10592-005-9052-2
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Restoration of habitat for endangered species often involves translocation of seeds or individuals from source populations to an area targeted for revegetation. Long-term persistence of a species is dependent on the maintenance of sufficient genetic variation within and among populations. Thus, knowledge and maintenance of genetic variability within rare or endangered species is essential for developing effective conservation and restoration strategies. Genetic monitoring of both natural and restored populations can provide an assessment of restoration protocol success in establishing populations that maintain levels of genetic diversity similar to those in natural populations. California’s vernal pools are home to many endangered plants, thus conservation and restoration are large components of their management. Lasthenia conjugens (Asteraceae) is a federally endangered self-incompatible vernal pool annual with gravity- dispersed seeds. Using the molecular technique of intersimple sequence repeats (ISSRs), this study assessed levels and patterns of genetic variability present within natural and restored populations of L. conjugens. At Travis Air Force Base near Fairfield, California, a vernal pool restoration project is underway. Genetic success of the ecologically based seeding protocol was examined through genetic monitoring of natural and restored populations over a three-year period. Genetic diversity remained constant across the three sampled generations. Diversity was also widely distributed across all populations. We conclude that the protocol used to establish restored populations was successful in capturing similar levels and patterns of genetic diversity to those seen within natural pools. This study also demonstrates how genetic markers can be used to inform conservation and restoration decisions.