(Helonias bullata © U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
Genetic Diversity in Rare Southeastern Plant Species
By J. L. Hamrick, Ph.D., Department of Plant Biology,
University of Georgia
Genetic variation is essential for species to evolve and meet new environmental challenges. Rare southeastern species maintain higher levels of genetic variation than rare species in general, but have less variation than their widespread congeneric species. Sweeping generalizations about genetic variation in rare species are difficult since complex interactions between a species’ characteristics and its evolutionary history often occur. Thus, empirical studies are usually needed to determine actual levels and distributions of genetic variation within rare plant species.
Dr. Jim Hamrick is a Regents Professor of Plant Biology at The University of Georgia, received his B.S. degree (Forestry) from North Carolina State University and M.S. (Forest Genetics) and Ph.D. (Genetics) from the University of California, Berkeley. He studies the genetic effects of habitat fragmentation on tropical tree populations and the population genetics of rare southeastern plant species and of invasive plant species.