Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Ecology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 June 2023) | Viewed by 23019

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Champaing, IL 61820, USA
Interests: plant reproductive biology/ecology; plant-insect interactions; threatened/endangered plant species; conservation biology

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Botany and Plant Ecology, Weber State University, Ogden, UT 84408, USA
Interests: systematics of Boraginaceae; conservation genetics and genomics; evolution and development of heterostyly

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

New advances and research in plant reproductive ecology continue to provide key insights into the conservation of plant species. Similarly, the emerging technologies, techniques, and tools in data collection and analyses continue to advance the field of plant conservation biology, allowing for discoveries and interpretations that were not feasible at the beginning of the century. For this Special Issue of Plants, we are seeking papers to cover a wide variety of perspectives in ecology, systematics, population genetics, modeling, seed ecology, mutualist and antagonistic interactions, etc., toward advancing the fields of reproductive ecology and the conservation of plants. We welcome single species to multiple species papers that include broader implications within the subject matter of the Special Issue. We want to highlight work conducted with vascular plants, nonvascular plants, and lichens. In addition, we are seeking different research viewpoints and perspectives within academia, botanical gardens, herbarium collections, natural heritage programs, etc. Lastly, our vision for this Special Issue of Plants is to capture a global perspective of plant reproductive ecology and conservation biology, and as such, we welcome and encourage submission from around the world.

Dr. Brenda Molano-Flores
Dr. James Cohen
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Plants is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • plant reproductive ecology
  • plant conservation biology
  • vascular plants
  • nonvascular plants
  • lichens

Published Papers (16 papers)

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Editorial

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4 pages, 200 KiB  
Editorial
Introduction to the Special Issue of Plants on “Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology”
by Brenda Molano-Flores and James I. Cohen
Plants 2024, 13(5), 605; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13050605 - 23 Feb 2024
Viewed by 690
Abstract
Plant reproductive ecology explores aspects of the biology and ecology of plants ranging from breeding systems, plant–pollinator interactions, seed germination, floral traits, and much more [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

19 pages, 6238 KiB  
Article
Defining Populations and Predicting Future Suitable Niche Space in the Geographically Disjunct, Narrowly Endemic Leafy Prairie-Clover (Dalea foliosa; Fabaceae)
by Ashley B. Morris, Clayton J. Visger, Skyler J. Fox, Cassandra Scalf, Sunny Fleming and Geoff Call
Plants 2024, 13(4), 495; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13040495 - 9 Feb 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 794
Abstract
Conservation actions for rare species are often based on estimates of population size and number, which are challenging to capture in natural systems. Instead, many definitions of populations rely on arbitrarily defined distances between occurrences, which is not necessarily biologically meaningful despite having [...] Read more.
Conservation actions for rare species are often based on estimates of population size and number, which are challenging to capture in natural systems. Instead, many definitions of populations rely on arbitrarily defined distances between occurrences, which is not necessarily biologically meaningful despite having utility from a conservation management perspective. Here, we introduce a case study using the narrowly endemic and highly geographically disjunct leafy prairie-clover (Dalea foliosa), for which we use nuclear microsatellite loci to assess the current delimitations of populations and management units across its entire known range. We model future potential suitable niche space for the species to assess how currently defined populations could fare under predicted changes in climate over the next 50 years. Our results indicate that genetic variation within the species is extremely limited, particularly so in the distal portions of its range (Illinois and Alabama). Within the core of its range (Tennessee), genetic structure is not consistent with populations as currently defined. Our models indicate that predicted suitable niche space may only marginally overlap with the geology associated with this species (limestone glades and dolomite prairies) by 2070. Additional studies are needed to evaluate the extent to which populations are ecologically adapted to local environments and what role this could play in future translocation efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)
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22 pages, 4241 KiB  
Article
Conservation Genetics of the Endangered Lompoc Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon capitatum Eastw., Namaceae), including Phylogenomic Insights into the Evolution of Eriodictyon
by C. Matt Guilliams and Kristen E. Hasenstab-Lehman
Plants 2024, 13(1), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13010090 - 27 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 822
Abstract
Eriodictyon capitatum (Namaceae) is a narrowly distributed shrub endemic to western Santa Barbara County, where it is known from only 10 extant California Natural Diversity Database element occurrences (EOs). Owing to low numbers of plants in nature, a limited overall extent, and multiple [...] Read more.
Eriodictyon capitatum (Namaceae) is a narrowly distributed shrub endemic to western Santa Barbara County, where it is known from only 10 extant California Natural Diversity Database element occurrences (EOs). Owing to low numbers of plants in nature, a limited overall extent, and multiple current threats, E. capitatum is listed as Endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act and as Rare under the California Native Plant Protection Act. In the present study, high-throughput DNA sequence data were analyzed to investigate genetic diversity within and among all accessible EOs; to determine the extent of genetic isolation among EOs; to examine clonality within EOs; and to examine the taxonomic circumscriptions of E. capitatum, E. altissimum, E. angustifolium, and E. californicum through phylogenomic analysis. Population genetic analyses of E. capitatum reveal a pattern of strong genetic differentiation by location/EO. The clonality assessment shows that certain small EOs may support relatively few multilocus genotypes. The phylogenomic analyses strongly support the present-day taxonomic circumscriptions of both E. altissimum and E. capitatum, showing them to be reciprocally monophyletic and sister with strong support. Taken together, these results paint a picture of an evolutionarily and morphologically distinct species known from relatively few, genetically isolated stations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)
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18 pages, 2991 KiB  
Article
San Diego Thornmint (Acanthomintha ilicifolia) Populations Differ in Growth and Reproductive Responses to Differential Water Availability: Evidence from a Common Garden Experiment
by Katherine D. Heineman, Stacy M. Anderson, Joseph M. Davitt, Laurie Lippitt, Bryan A. Endress and Christa M. Horn
Plants 2023, 12(19), 3439; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12193439 - 29 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 789
Abstract
The responses of rare plants to environmental stressors will determine their potential to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. We used a common garden approach to evaluate how six populations of the annual San Diego thornmint (Acanthomintha ilicifolia Lamiaceae; listed as endangered [...] Read more.
The responses of rare plants to environmental stressors will determine their potential to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. We used a common garden approach to evaluate how six populations of the annual San Diego thornmint (Acanthomintha ilicifolia Lamiaceae; listed as endangered in the state of California and as threatened by the US Fish and Wildlife Service) from across the species range respond in terms of growth (biomass, height, and width) and reproduction (seed production, floral production, and next generation seed viability) to experimental differences in water availability. We found a significant irrigation-by-population interaction on the aboveground growth, wherein the differences in the magnitude and direction of treatment did not correlate directly with climate variables in natural populations. With respect to reproduction, the low-irrigation treatment produced more seeds per plant, more reproductive individuals, and a larger proportion of viable seed in most, but not all, populations. The seed production and the effect of irrigation on seed production correlated positively with rainfall at wild source populations. These results suggest that Acanthomintha ilicifolia responds to water limitation by creating more and higher-quality seed, and that plants locally adapted to a higher annual rainfall show a greater plasticity to differences in water availability than plants adapted to a lower annual rainfall, a finding that can inform the in situ demographic management and ex situ collection strategy for Acanthomintha ilicifolia and other rare California annuals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)
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14 pages, 4661 KiB  
Article
Taxonomic Identification and Molecular DNA Barcoding of Collected Wild-Growing Orchids Used Traditionally for Salep Production
by Aphrodite Tsaballa, George Kelesidis, Nikos Krigas, Virginia Sarropoulou, Panagiotis Bagatzounis and Katerina Grigoriadou
Plants 2023, 12(17), 3038; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12173038 - 24 Aug 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1834
Abstract
Molecular DNA barcoding combined with botanical taxonomy can be used for the identification and conservation of collected Greek orchids used for salep production as well as in the regulation of fair salep trade. A modified CTAB protocol was used for DNA extraction, amplification [...] Read more.
Molecular DNA barcoding combined with botanical taxonomy can be used for the identification and conservation of collected Greek orchids used for salep production as well as in the regulation of fair salep trade. A modified CTAB protocol was used for DNA extraction, amplification of barcoding regions (ITS, matK, rbcL, trnH-psbA), and sequencing. Sequencing data were assembled using Bioedit software, and the BLAST algorithm was used on the NCBI database for species identification at the genus level. Molecular barcoding data based on genetic similarity identification was in full coherence with taxonomic classification based on morphological data. The combination of ITS and matK exhibited a greater capacity to identify a species among the Greek salep samples. Out of the 53 samples examined, 52.9% were classified as Dactylorhiza spp. and 33.3% as Anacamptis spp., whereas only 6 samples were identified as Orchis spp. (11.8%). Given that a superior-quality salep beverage comes from tubers of the latter, the number of samples classified as such in northwestern Greece is unexpectedly low. A database of 53 original reference sequences from wild-growing samples of Greek origin was generated, providing a valuable resource for the identification of other salep samples from different regions. The DNA barcoding results unveiled that salep samples from northwestern Greece are related to nine members of four different genera of Orchidaceae. All species are nationally protected and covered by the CITES convention, while many of these orchids are included in the EU Directive 92/43/EEC appendix as “Other Important Species”. Thus, expedited coordinated management actions are needed to ensure their survival in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)
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14 pages, 4701 KiB  
Article
Flower Size as an Honest Signal in Royal Irises (Iris Section Oncocyclus, Iridaceae)
by Sissi Lozada-Gobilard, Nadine Nielsen and Yuval Sapir
Plants 2023, 12(16), 2978; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12162978 - 18 Aug 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1333
Abstract
Flower traits, such as flower size or color changes, can act as honest signals indicating greater rewards such as nectar; however, nothing is known about shelter-rewarding systems. Large flowers of Royal irises offer overnight shelter as a reward to Eucera bees. A black [...] Read more.
Flower traits, such as flower size or color changes, can act as honest signals indicating greater rewards such as nectar; however, nothing is known about shelter-rewarding systems. Large flowers of Royal irises offer overnight shelter as a reward to Eucera bees. A black patch might signal the entrance to the tunnel (shelter) and, together with the flower size, these might act as honest signals. We hypothesize that larger flowers and black patches indicate larger tunnels, and larger tunnels will increase pollinator visits, enhancing the plants’ reproductive success. We measured seven species in a controlled environment and two species from three natural populations varying in flower size. Fruit and seed sets were assessed in these natural populations. We found a positive correlation between the flower, patch size, and tunnel volume, suggesting that the flowers and patch size act as honest signals, both under controlled conditions and in the wild. However, in natural populations, this positive relationship and its effect on fitness was population-specific. Flower size increased the fitness in YER I. petrana, and interactions between flower/patch size and tunnel size increased the fitness in YER and I. atropurpurea NET populations. This suggests that the honesty of the signal is positively selected in these two populations. This study supports the hypothesis that pollinator-mediated selection leads to the honest signaling of flower advertisement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)
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17 pages, 3115 KiB  
Article
The Conservation Genetics of Iris lacustris (Dwarf Lake Iris), a Great Lakes Endemic
by James Isaac Cohen and Salomon Turgman-Cohen
Plants 2023, 12(13), 2557; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12132557 - 5 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1133
Abstract
Iris lacustris, a northern Great Lakes endemic, is a rare species known from 165 occurrences across Lakes Michigan and Huron in the United States and Canada. Due to multiple factors, including habitat loss, lack of seed dispersal, patterns of reproduction, and forest [...] Read more.
Iris lacustris, a northern Great Lakes endemic, is a rare species known from 165 occurrences across Lakes Michigan and Huron in the United States and Canada. Due to multiple factors, including habitat loss, lack of seed dispersal, patterns of reproduction, and forest succession, the species is threatened. Early population genetic studies using isozymes and allozymes recovered no to limited genetic variation within the species. To better explore genetic variation across the geographic range of I. lacustris and to identify units for conservation, we used tunable Genotyping-by-Sequencing (tGBS) with 171 individuals across 24 populations from Michigan and Wisconsin, and because the species is polyploid, we filtered the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) matrices using polyRAD to recognize diploid and tetraploid loci. Based on multiple population genetic approaches, we resolved three to four population clusters that are geographically structured across the range of the species. The species migrated from west to east across its geographic range, and minimal genetic exchange has occurred among populations. Four units for conservation are recognized, but nine adaptive units were identified, providing evidence for local adaptation across the geographic range of the species. Population genetic analyses with all, diploid, and tetraploid loci recovered similar results, which suggests that methods may be robust to variation in ploidy level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)
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12 pages, 1516 KiB  
Article
Population Genetics, Genetic Structure, and Inbreeding of Commiphora gileadensis (L.) C. Chr Inferred from SSR Markers in Some Mountainous Sites of Makkah Province
by Hassan Mansour, Khalid H. Alamer and Zaki M. Al-Hasawi
Plants 2023, 12(13), 2506; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12132506 - 30 Jun 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1115
Abstract
Commiphora gileadensis (L.) C. Chr is a perennial plant existing mainly in the southern and western mountains of the Arabian Peninsula. In the Makkah province, the remaining populations are threatened by many factors such as overcutting, overgrazing, and urban developments. These dangers are [...] Read more.
Commiphora gileadensis (L.) C. Chr is a perennial plant existing mainly in the southern and western mountains of the Arabian Peninsula. In the Makkah province, the remaining populations are threatened by many factors such as overcutting, overgrazing, and urban developments. These dangers are expected to be aggravated by the progression of aridification factors arising from climate change. To overcome the decline in remaining populations of this valuable species, a timely evaluation of the population’s genetic variables and genetic structure is vital for the conservation of existing C. gileadensis populations. In this study, we used 61 SSR primers to achieve this objective. Only 50 loci showed polymorphisms, which led to further analysis of the population genetics for 600 genotypes that were collected from 50 populations of C. gileadensis found in 10 different sites in the Makkah region: Gebel Al Muliesaa, Wadi Albathna, Wadi Houra, Wadi Albaidaa, Wadi Elebiedia, Gebel Kniethl, Wadi Sayaa, Wadi Elbarasa, Wadi Alfawara, and Wadi Alkharar. The results showed an obvious decrease in genetic diversity variables in all studied populations. The range of PPL was between 8 and 40; additionally, the low HT value of 0.804 and the high value of inbreeding, Fis = 0.238, reflected a severe lack of heterozygotes. High levels of FST and GST and low gene flow indicate considerable segregation among the C. gileadensis populations, which creates a barrier to gene migration. Our data suggest the need for conservation planning for C. gileadensis in order to avoid the species’ forthcoming extinction. Efforts should be largely oriented around managing water consumption, prohibiting overcutting and overgrazing, and establishing appropriate seed banks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)
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20 pages, 2711 KiB  
Article
A Foundational Population Genetics Investigation of the Sexual Systems of Solanum (Solanaceae) in the Australian Monsoon Tropics Suggests Dioecious Taxa May Benefit from Increased Genetic Admixture via Obligate Outcrossing
by Jason T. Cantley, Ingrid E. Jordon-Thaden, Morgan D. Roche, Daniel Hayes, Stephanie Kate and Christopher T. Martine
Plants 2023, 12(11), 2200; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12112200 - 2 Jun 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2020
Abstract
Solanum section Leptostemonum is an ideal lineage to test the theoretical framework regarding proposed evolutionary benefits of outcrossing sexual systems in comparison to cosexuality. Theoretically, non-cosexual taxa should support more genetic diversity within populations, experience less inbreeding, and have less genetic structure due [...] Read more.
Solanum section Leptostemonum is an ideal lineage to test the theoretical framework regarding proposed evolutionary benefits of outcrossing sexual systems in comparison to cosexuality. Theoretically, non-cosexual taxa should support more genetic diversity within populations, experience less inbreeding, and have less genetic structure due to a restricted ability to self-fertilize. However, many confounding factors present challenges for a confident inference that inherent differences in sexual systems influence observed genetic patterns among populations. This study provides a foundational baseline of the population genetics of several species of different sexual systems with the aim of generating hypotheses of any factor—including sexual system—that influences genetic patterns. Importantly, results indicate that dioecious S. asymmetriphyllum maintains less genetic structure and greater admixture among populations than cosexual S. raphiotes at the same three locations where they co-occur. This suggests that when certain conditions are met, the evolution of dioecy may have proceeded as a means to avoid genetic consequences of self-compatibility and may support hypotheses of benefits gained through differential resource allocation partitioned across sexes. Arguably, the most significant finding of this study is that all taxa are strongly inbred, possibly reflective of a shared response to recent climate shifts, such as the increased frequency and intensity of the region’s fire regime. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)
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12 pages, 1728 KiB  
Article
Assessing the Reproductive Ecology of a Rare Mint, Macbridea alba, an Endangered Species Act Protected Species
by Sara A. Johnson, Janice Coons, David N. Zaya and Brenda Molano-Flores
Plants 2023, 12(7), 1485; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12071485 - 28 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1427
Abstract
Many rare plant species lack up-to-date research about their reproductive ecology, which challenges effective in situ and ex situ conservation, particularly in the face of ongoing environmental and anthropogenic changes. For protected species, outdated and incomplete information also creates barriers to successful recovery [...] Read more.
Many rare plant species lack up-to-date research about their reproductive ecology, which challenges effective in situ and ex situ conservation, particularly in the face of ongoing environmental and anthropogenic changes. For protected species, outdated and incomplete information also creates barriers to successful recovery planning and delisting. In this study, we gathered a range of reproductive metrics for the federally threatened and state endangered Florida endemic mint, Macbridea alba Chapman (Lamiaceae). We collected data at seven populations within Apalachicola National Forest (Florida, USA) and conducted germination trials to estimate reproductive potential. Additionally, we observed a previously undocumented lepidopteran seed predator for the species and confirmed the occurrence of vivipary. The seed set was low with less than 20% of flowers per inflorescence producing seed across populations; however, germination was high with more than 60% of seeds germinating in five of seven populations. When comparing our results to previous research conducted more than 20 years ago, the results were similar overall (i.e., germination, vivipary); however, new information emerged (i.e., herbivore pressure). As M. alba undergoes reassessment as a potential candidate for delisting from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) list, this information is critical for assessing recovery goals and decisions regarding the species’ protected status. For recovery needs related to propagation and reintroduction, these results can inform future seed collection and propagation efforts for the species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)
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12 pages, 4461 KiB  
Article
Population Assessments of Federally Threatened Everglades Bully in Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida, USA, Using Habitat Suitability Modeling and Micromorphology
by James J. Lange, Courtney L. Angelo, Erick Revuelta and Jennifer Possley
Plants 2023, 12(7), 1430; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12071430 - 23 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1277
Abstract
In Big Cypress National Preserve, the federally threatened Everglades bully (Sideroxylon reclinatum subsp. austrofloridense) is sympatric with its conspecific, more widespread relative, the Florida bully (Sideroxylon reclinatum subsp. reclinatum). In this area of overlap, the only reliable characters to [...] Read more.
In Big Cypress National Preserve, the federally threatened Everglades bully (Sideroxylon reclinatum subsp. austrofloridense) is sympatric with its conspecific, more widespread relative, the Florida bully (Sideroxylon reclinatum subsp. reclinatum). In this area of overlap, the only reliable characters to distinguish the two are cryptic, micromorphological traits of the abaxial laminar surface. In order to better understand the distribution of the federally threatened taxon, we used a combination of habitat suitability modeling (HSM), field surveys, and microscopy. Using models to inform initial surveys, we collected leaf material of 96 individuals in the field, 86 of which we were able to identify to subspecies. Of these, 73 (85%) were identified as the threatened taxon, expanding both the known range and population size within Big Cypress. We used these 73 new occurrences to rerun HSMs to create a more accurate picture of where the taxon is likely to occur. A total of 15,015 hectares were predicted to be suitable habitat within Big Cypress, with 34,069 hectares across the entire study area. These model results could be used to inform the critical habitat designation for this taxon. For at-risk, cryptic taxa, such as the Everglades bully, multiple approaches are needed to inform management and conservation priorities, including the consideration of a hybridization zone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)
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17 pages, 4241 KiB  
Article
High Prevalence of Clonal Reproduction and Low Genetic Diversity in Scutellaria floridana, a Federally Threatened Florida-Endemic Mint
by Gina Renee Hanko, Maria Therese Vogel, Vivian Negrón-Ortiz and Richard C. Moore
Plants 2023, 12(4), 919; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12040919 - 17 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1350
Abstract
The threatened mint Florida skullcap (Scutellaria floridana) is endemic to four counties in the Florida panhandle. Because development and habitat modification extirpated several historical occurrences, only 19 remain to date. To inform conservation management and delisting decisions, a comprehensive investigation of [...] Read more.
The threatened mint Florida skullcap (Scutellaria floridana) is endemic to four counties in the Florida panhandle. Because development and habitat modification extirpated several historical occurrences, only 19 remain to date. To inform conservation management and delisting decisions, a comprehensive investigation of the genetic diversity and relatedness, population structure, and clonal diversity was conducted using SNP data generated by ddRAD. Compared with other Lamiaceae, we detected low genetic diversity (HE = 0.125–0.145), low to moderate evidence of inbreeding (FIS = −0.02–0.555), and moderate divergence (FST = 0.05–0.15). We identified eight populations with most of the genetic diversity, which should be protected in situ, and four populations with low genetic diversity and high clonality. Clonal reproduction in our circular plots and in 92% of the sites examined was substantial, with average clonal richness of 0.07 and 0.59, respectively. Scutellaria floridana appears to have experienced a continued decline in the number of extant populations since its listing under the Endangered Species Act; still, the combination of sexual and asexual reproduction may be advantageous for maintaining the viability of extant populations. However, the species will likely require ongoing monitoring, management, and increased public awareness to ensure its survival and effectively conserve its genetic diversity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)
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17 pages, 10069 KiB  
Article
Reproduction Modes and Conservation Implications in Three Polyploid Sorbus Stenoendemics in Eastern Slovakia (Central Europe)
by Vladislav Kolarčik, Mária Mirková and Vlastimil Mikoláš
Plants 2023, 12(2), 373; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12020373 - 13 Jan 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1708
Abstract
The remarkable species diversity of the genus Sorbus is a result of polyploidization and frequent hybridization between interacting species of different cytotypes. Moreover, hybridization is possible between several parental taxa. Gametophytic apomixis, which is common among polyploid Sorbus taxa, indicates the role of [...] Read more.
The remarkable species diversity of the genus Sorbus is a result of polyploidization and frequent hybridization between interacting species of different cytotypes. Moreover, hybridization is possible between several parental taxa. Gametophytic apomixis, which is common among polyploid Sorbus taxa, indicates the role of clonal reproduction in the evolutionary stabilization of hybridogeneous genotypes. The precise determination of the origin of seeds and their quantitative evaluation may elucidate inter-cytotype interactions, the potential role of mixed-cytotype populations in evolutionary success, and the long-term survival of some hybrid species. We investigated the reproduction modes of selected species of Sorbus in mixed-cytotype populations in eastern Slovakia, Central Europe. We determined the pollen quality, seed production rate, and the ploidy level of mature trees, as well as the origin of the embryo and endosperm in seeds of the stenoendemics S. amici-petri, S. dolomiticola, and S. hornadensis. The tetraploids S. amici-petri and S. hornadensis are characterized by regular and highly stainable pollen grains and reproduce predominantly via pseudogamous apomixis. In contrast, triploid S. dolomiticola usually has oval, heterogenous, and weakly stainable pollen grains, suggesting male meiotic irregularities. Although seeds originate via pseudogamous apomixis in S. dolomiticola as well, the ploidy level of sperm cells participating in the fertilization of central cells is usually determined by co-occurring species of different cytotypes. This suggests that maintaining mating partners is necessary for the long-term survival of a triploid species. We documented rare BIII hybrids and the residual sexuality in tetraploids. The distribution of seeds of meiotic and apomeiotic origins in S. amici-petri shows bimodal characteristics; however, genotypes with predominantly sexual seed types are rare. Reproduction modes documented in polyploid stenoendemics of Sorbus and inferred microevolutionary intercytotype relationships highlight the mixed-cytotype populations as the source of biodiversity in apomictic plant complexes. We suggest that conservation efforts should focus on maintaining the species and cytotypic diversity of Sorbus populations, especially when it comes to the conservation of triploid species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)
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20 pages, 2484 KiB  
Article
More than Moths: Flower Visitors of a Night-Blooming Plant in South Florida Pine Rocklands, USA
by María Cleopatra Pimienta and Suzanne Koptur
Plants 2022, 11(20), 2799; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11202799 - 21 Oct 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2223
Abstract
Plants whose flowers open at night but remain open during the day also attract diurnal flower visitors, potentially boosting their pollination rates and providing resources that can support diverse arthropod communities. The rough-leaf velvetseed, Guettarda scabra (Rubiaceae), is an evergreen shrub that thrives [...] Read more.
Plants whose flowers open at night but remain open during the day also attract diurnal flower visitors, potentially boosting their pollination rates and providing resources that can support diverse arthropod communities. The rough-leaf velvetseed, Guettarda scabra (Rubiaceae), is an evergreen shrub that thrives only in the imperiled pine rockland habitat in south Florida. Its white, tubular, and fragrant flowers open during late afternoon, exhibiting traits strongly associated with the attraction of nocturnal hawkmoths (Sphingidae). Flowers of G. scabra remain open until the following morning, becoming available to a wider array of visitors, bringing into question the expectation that sphingophilous flowers are visited mainly by hawkmoths. To evaluate whether the flowers of G. scabra are mainly visited by nocturnal hawkmoths and understand the role of this plant in the pine rockland habitat, we characterized the arthropod fauna associated with its flowers during the morning, evening, and at night. We found that most flower visitors were diurnal insects of the orders Hymenoptera and Lepidoptera, although we observed other arthropod groups too. Visitation at night was dominated by two species of hawkmoths. Nectar was the main resource used by the arthropod community during this study. Legitimate visitation and nectar-robbing were the behaviors most frequently observed among the flower visitors. Our results suggest that flowers of the night-blooming G. scabra constitute an important food source for both diurnal and nocturnal arthropod fauna in the fire-dependent pine rocklands of southern Florida. Our study provides novel data to support efforts to conserve and protect pine rocklands and the plants and animals that inhabit them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)
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17 pages, 3677 KiB  
Article
Phenology and Floral Biology of Diospyros sericea A. DC. (Ebenaceae): Inconstant Males May Be behind an Enigma of Dioecy
by Bárbara Ramaldes, Renata Santos, André Rodrigo Rech and Michellia Soares
Plants 2022, 11(19), 2535; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11192535 - 27 Sep 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1745
Abstract
Diospyros sericea is a tree/shrub species considered dioecious and broadly distributed in Brazil. Despite its importance for niche composition in a range of ecosystems, there is little knowledge about this species, and so far no study has analyzed its sexual system. We aimed [...] Read more.
Diospyros sericea is a tree/shrub species considered dioecious and broadly distributed in Brazil. Despite its importance for niche composition in a range of ecosystems, there is little knowledge about this species, and so far no study has analyzed its sexual system. We aimed to investigate dioecy expression in D. sericea through sexual dimorphisms in its phenology and floral biology. We analyzed the phenological events over a year and studied floral biology traits (morphology, flower development, floral resource, floral attractants supply, viability of pollen, and stigma receptivity) in both male and female plants. D. sericea presents typical features of dioecious plants like well-established primary and secondary dimorphisms that contribute to its reproductive success. However, we also identified fruit development in what should be structurally male individuals. We suggest that the evolutionary pathway leading to the observed phenomenon may be the existence of subdioecious populations with “inconstant males”. Although our data prevented us from making further assumptions about the origin of this trait, the study contributes to future analyses towards unraveling the enigma of dioecy not only in D. sericea but in other Diospyros species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)
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Review

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Review
Pityopsis ruthii: An Updated Review of Conservation Efforts for an Endangered Plant
by Phillip A. Wadl, Adam J. Dattilo, Geoff Call, Denita Hadziabdic and Robert N. Trigiano
Plants 2023, 12(14), 2693; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12142693 - 19 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 958
Abstract
Pityopsis ruthii (Small) Small, Ruth’s golden aster, is an endangered Asteraceae species that grows in the riparian zone along small sections of two rivers in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of the United States of America (USA). Since 1985, the species has been listed [...] Read more.
Pityopsis ruthii (Small) Small, Ruth’s golden aster, is an endangered Asteraceae species that grows in the riparian zone along small sections of two rivers in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of the United States of America (USA). Since 1985, the species has been listed under the Endangered Species Act by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The mission of the USFWS is to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continued benefit of the American people. The agency provides national leadership in the recovery and conservation of imperiled plant species by working with the scientific community to protect important habitats, increase species’ populations, and identify and reduce threats to species survival with the goal of removal from federal protection. Over the past 35 years, research efforts have focused on studies designed to delineate the range and size of populations, determine habitat requirements, reproductive and propagation potential, and understand the demographic, ecological, and genetic factors that may increase vulnerability to extinction for P. ruthii. Cooperative partnerships have driven the completion of actions called for in the strategy to recover P. ruthii, and in this review, we highlight these efforts within the context of species conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Plant Reproductive Ecology and Conservation Biology)
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