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Mitigating the Impacts of Climate Change on Rare Plants through Assisted Migration Open Access


Other title
seed production
flower morph ratio
climate change
Liatris ligulistylis
assisted migration
Houstonia longifolia
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Pedersen, Jennine L.M.
Supervisor and department
Macdonald, Ellen (Renewable Resources)
Nielsen, Scott (Renewable Resources)
Examining committee member and department
Gould, Joyce (Alberta Environment and Parks)
Shotyk, William (Renewable Resources)
Hamann, Andreas (Renewable Resources)
Department of Renewable Resources
Conservation Biology
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
Given high levels of human disturbance and projected rates of climate change, many species will be unable to keep pace with their shifting climatic ranges and thus face increased risk of extinction. This research investigated the use of assisted migrations for two rare and range-restricted plant species in Alberta: Houstonia longifolia and Liatris ligulistylis. The reproductive ecology of the distylous species Houstonia longifolia was also investigated to better understand limitations in reproduction and to help develop more successful conservation strategies. Assisted migration trials for both Houstonia longifolia and Liatris ligulistylis involved the translocation of mature plants and seeds to replicate sites at each of four geographic locations along a north-south gradient in Alberta being both south (future warming) and north (future climatic habitat) of the species current range. Houstonia longifolia flower morph ratios were more pin biased in small populations with seed production varying by morph type and proportion of plants in the surrounding area with pin flower morphs. As the proportion of pins increased, seed production increased in thrums, while decreasing in pins. This demonstrates that Houstonia longifolia has a self-incompatibility system that requires the presence of opposite floral morphs for maximum seed production. The assisted migrations of Houstonia longifolia resulted in 6.2% of adult plant survival from mostly within its current range and no seed germination at any site. In contrast, Liatris ligulistylis adult plants and seed were able to grow and establish hundreds of kilometers outside of their current range. Results suggest that Liatris ligulistylis may be out of equilibrium with the climate in its current range with some measures of plant performance best 500 km north of its current range. The inclusion of soil from source locations also improved plant performance. Translocation of plants with source soil may therefore improve the success of these and future assisted migrations. It is hoped that through the continuation of these trials, assisted migrations will become a more recognized and utilized conservation strategy to prevent the loss of biodiversity.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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