Abstract for the Report by lydialoyd [WorldCat.org]
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Fragmentation effects on fitness in five common prairie species

by Lydia Miramontes Loyd; Eastern Illinois University. Department of Biological Sciences,

  Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript   Archival Material

Abstract for the Report   (2013-09-19)


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by lydialoyd

Midwest tallgrass prairies have suffered extensive habitat loss and as a result persist as isolated and highly fragmented remnants.  In such small, isolated remnants, genetic drift and inbreeding depression can lead to a loss of genetic variation over time.  Reduced genetic variation is often associated with reduced levels of growth, survival, and reproduction as well as increased susceptibility to stress.  This study examined fitness traits of five common prairie species to determine whether plants in small fragmented remnants had reduced fitness as compared to those in a larger remnant.  Five prairie species were chosen for this study based on their common occurrence across tallgrass prairies: lead plant, Amorpha canescens; purple prairie clover, Dalea purpurea; rattlesnake master, Eryngium yuccifolium; wild quinine, Parthenium integrifolium; and Virginia mountain mint, Pycnanthemum virginianum.  I collected seeds and reproductive tissue from isolated prairie remnants and compared seed weight, total reproductive output and germination rates.  Seedlings were also grown in a greenhouse for 30 days to determine seedling vigor including seedling biomass, height or leaf length, and leaf area.  In five out of six fitness measures, at least one plant species from a small fragment had reduced fitness when compared to the larger fragment.  Dalea purpurea, P. integrifolium, and P. virginianum, all had lower percentage of seeds germinate in the smaller fragments as compared to the large.  Eryngium yuccifolium seedlings had shorter leaf lengths and less total leaf area in one of the smaller prairie remnants as compared to the larger remnant.  These results suggest that even common species have suffered the effects associated with habitat fragmentation potentially driven by loss of genetic variation.  This has implications for land and resource managers as they must take steps to insure the health of common as well as rare species in small isolated remnants around the world.  

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