Esselman, E.; et al - Closing the Evolutionary Gap: measuring genetic diversity and habitat resilience in support of plant conservation and preservation

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Closing the Evolutionary Gap: measuring genetic diversity and habitat resilience in
support of plant conservation and preservation
E. Esselman
Rare plant conservation plays a vital and important role in the evolutionary development
of ecological habitats. The extinction of plant species creates an evolutionary gap or
empty space in the evolutionary process. Species extinction removes not only the
disappearing species but also the possible evolutionary impact of that species on others.
The three studies included in this session used a variety of methods to ascertain the health
and resiliency of disturbed habitats or endangered species. These studies examined
genetic diversity among selected plant populations, studied various plant species for
evidence of hybridization, and examined the floristic quality of a previously disturbed
field in Illinois. Hybridization can contribute to the extinction of rare species by
inhibiting its ability to reproduce. Genetic diversity is a measure of how well a species
can adapt and evolve to changes in the environment. The studies separately used ISSR
molecular markers and the Floristic Quality Index to determine these effects.
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