Conservation genetics of wild populations and botanic garden collections of Australian cycads

Start date:
01 Dec 2013
End date:
30 Jun 2016
Researchers:
Dr Nathalie Nagalingum James Clugston (PhD student, BGCP & Uni. Edinburgh, UK)
Project sponsors:
Australian Flora Foundation

Project aims

  • Identify which populations are the most genetically diverse, and target these populations for in situ conservation.
  • Determine if ex situ collections sufficiently represent the genetic diversity in the wild.
  • Test a putative hybrid to determine if it is a hybrid and if so confirm its parent species; otherwise if the taxon is not a hybrid, recognize it as a new species and assess its extinction risk rating

 

Project Summary

This project leverages the latest molecular genomic techniques for conservation of the cycads, which are the most endangered group of group of plants alive today. Cycas (Cycadaceae) is the most diverse and widespread of all the cycad genera and all Australian species are endemic, and one-quarter of these are endangered or vulnerable. This project targets Cycas taxa occurring in the Northern Territory. The overarching goal is to provide genetic data for conservation. This project aims to identify the most genetically diverse populations and target these populations for in situ conservation, as well as determine if ex situ collections sufficiently represent the genetic diversity in the wild. A putative hybrid will be tested to determine if it is a hybrid. This project addresses conservation at multiple levels by providing knowledge for directing protection strategies, assessing current approaches, as well as preserving biodiversity as an insurance policy against extinction.

Research Update

One fieldtrip in the Northern Territory has been completed and analysis of collected specimens and data is progressing.