Conservation genetic inferences in the carnivorous pitcher plant Sarracenia alata (Sarraceniaceae)
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Conservation geneticists make inferences about their focal species from genetic data, and then use these inferences to inform conservation decisions. Since different biological processes can produce similar patterns of genetic diversity, we advocate an approach to data analysis that considers the full range of evolutionary forces and attempts to evaluate their relative contributions in an objective manner. Here we collect data from microsatellites and chloroplast loci and use these data to explore models of historical demography in the carnivorous Pitcher Plant, Sarracenia alata. Findings indicate that populations of S. alata exhibit high degrees of population genetic structure, likely caused by dispersal limitation, and that population sizes have decreased in western populations and increased in eastern populations. These results provide new insight to the management and conservation of plants restricted to small, declining populations isolated in increasingly scarce and highly threatened habitat, including other rare and endangered species of Sarracenia.