Date of Award

8-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Plant and Environmental Science

Advisor

McMillan, Patrick D

Committee Member

Mikhailova, Elena

Committee Member

Adler, Peter

Committee Member

Shealy, Harry E

Abstract

In 2002 a unique population of Hydatica Necker ex Gray 1821 (Appalachian Saxifrage) was discovered by Patrick McMillan in the upper Piedmont of Pickens County, SC, growing on a low-elevation granite dome within the Nature Conservancy’s Nine Times nature preserve. The plants appeared to be similar to the widespread Hydatica petiolaris (Raf.) Small populations of the Blue Ridge Escarpment (BRE). However, the Pickens County population displays an annual life form and flowers during the late winter and early spring, in contrast to the perennial life forms and late spring through early fall flowerings of the BRE population. A study was initiated to determine if the population in Pickens County meets the criteria of the biological, phylogenetic and ecological species concepts and thus constitutes it as a novel species. Morphology comparisons, non-coding DNA analysis, common garden experiments, and ecological comparisons were chosen as species concept criteria to test high-elevation H. petiolaris populations and the low-elevation, Pickens County Hydatica sp. population. The floral form and stature, distinct DNA phylogeny, and unique adaptive zone of the Pickens County population proved distinct from other Hydatica petiolaris populations. Therefore, experimental evidence indicates that the Pickens County population meets three different species concepts, representing a novel species known only to this location.

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