Abstract Detail

Biodiversity at the brink: leveraging herbaria for conservation!

Mathews, Katherine [1].

Past and present species distributions and ecological dynamics of Southern Appalachian, high-elevation rock outcrop plant communities.

Digitized data from Western Carolina University (WCUH) and Highlands Biological Station (HBSH) herbaria, compared with present-day inventories, have been used to study past and present plant distributions, island dynamics, plant-pollinator interactions, and seed dispersal dynamics of high-elevation rock outcrops in the Southern Appalachians. High-elevation rock outcrops are pseudo-alpine communities that are significant contributors to the biodiversity of the region, containing endemic, refugial, disjunct, and rare species. Species checklists were created in SERNEC and linked to voucher specimens from the two collections. Using Geolocate, vouchers were batch georeferenced, and area polygons were drawn around rock outcrops to measure size and link them to specimen coordinates. Our dataset includes a total of 822 specimen records comprising 291 species from 83 rock outcrops, from SC to VA. We used ArcMap to examine species richness in relation to island size, distance to nearest island, island type (granitic dome vs. rocky summit), soil type (felsic vs. mafic), elevation and aspect. Results show that elevation has the greatest effect on species distributions, rather than distance to nearest neighbor, for example, but that soil type also has an environmental filtering effect. Floral visitor data show that generalist interactions predominate, potentially mitigating the effects of future climate change. WCUH has a wealth of high-elevation rock outcrop collections, making it amenable to analyses that can contribute to the conservation of species existing at remote sites, and to compare past and present distributions of species living under extreme conditions and with the stress of recent climate change. Future studies may examine distributional patterns of individual species, including rare and northern affinity species, of ecologically functional groups, and speciose genera.

1 - Western Carolina University, Department of Biology, 230 Apodaca Science Building, 460 Memorial Drive, Cullowhee, NC, 28723, USA

Southern Appalachians
rock outcrop

Presentation Type: Special Sessions
Number: SS010
Abstract ID:568
Candidate for Awards:None

Copyright © 2000-2022, Botanical Society of America. All rights reserved