Lepidospartum burgessii is a rare gypsophilic shrub with limited distribution in New Mexico and Texas. Most of the known plants are restricted to two large populations, with a few small, isolated populations scattered in the surrounding area. The low recruitment observed in the two largest populations may be due to low seed set resulting from high inbreeding and/or self-incompatibility. We used eight microsatellite loci to quantify diversity, relatedness, inbreeding, population structure, and frequency of clonal reproduction. Seed collections were made to quantify seed set and germination rates. Overall, there was a moderate level of clonal diversity within patches of L. burgessii indicating asexual growth is important for population persistence. Inbreeding coefficients were high both between and within populations. Most patches showed a significant level of relatedness between individuals. At a fine scale, patches within populations were significantly different from each other, however when all patches were combined, the two populations of L. burgessii were not genetically distinct. Compared to a population of its common congener, Lepidospartum latisquamum, L. burgessii populations had similar measures of diversity, more clonal reproduction, and lower germination rates. High relatedness and inbreeding may explain the low seed set and recruitment in L. burgessii, however factors such as insect herbivory and precipitation changes may further depress recruitment.
- Chihuahuan desert
- Lepidospartum latisquamum
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics