Conservation Genetics

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 365–381 | Cite as

Genetic differentiation and diversity of two sympatric subspecies of Castilleja affinis; a comparison between the endangered serpentine endemic (spp. neglecta) and its widespread congener (ssp. affinis)

  • Laney Widener
  • Jeremie B. Fant
Research Article


Edaphic endemic species are considered high conservation priority, as they are a unique and critical component of the ecosystems and are often restricted to small fragmented habitats. Castilleja affinis ssp. neglecta is a serpentine endemic species, known from six sites within the San Francisco Bay Area and is the focus of active restoration efforts. It grows sympatrically with the subspecies, C. affinis ssp. affinis, which is more widespread but differs in floral color and soil preference. In this study, we used morphometric measurements (three bract, ten floral, and two leaf measurements) and microsatellite markers to determine (1) how the two subspecies differ, (2) if there is evidence of hybridization and (3) quantify the genetic structure of known populations of C. affinis ssp. neglecta. We found that all 15 morphological measurements differed significantly between the subspecies and neutral genetic markers show strong genetic differentiation. Overall we found C. affinis ssp. neglecta populations had similar levels of genetic diversity and genetic differentiation between populations but higher inbreeding than compared to its more common congener. Two populations of C. affinis ssp. neglecta showed lower genetic differentiation from the C. affinis ssp. affinis populations, with some individuals showing considerable overlap in genotypic diversity, hence we cannot rule out historic or low levels hybridization in those populations. Castilleja affinis ssp. neglecta is a federally endangered species that would benefit from restoration efforts that aims to maintain genetic diversity while minimizing inbreeding in reintroduction efforts.


Castilleja affinis California Endangered Serpentine Endemic Congener 



This study would not be possible without the support from the Creekside Science, who provided the grounds for the study, financial support for the lab work, and hours organizing and collecting data in the field for the endangered C. affinis ssp. neglecta with us. We thank the California Native Plant Society for providing additional funding, knowledge, encouragement, and support of the project from inception to completion. For reviewing and providing suggestions for improving this manuscript, we want to thank the two anonymous reviewers, members of the Skogen-Fant lab and Andrea Kramer. We also are indebted to two very knowledgeable scientists who work with Castilleja for their time and energy: Mark Egger [UTW], who verified all of the field vouchers, and David Tank [U. Idaho], for advice on the study. We thank the Shaw family for their generous donation and continued support for Northwestern’s Plant Biology and Conservation Graduate Program.

Supplementary material

10592_2017_1009_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (26 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 25 KB)


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Plant Science and ConservationChicago Botanic GardenGlencoeUSA
  2. 2.Plant Biology and ConservationNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  3. 3.New England Wild Flower SocietyFraminghamUSA

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