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Defining conservation units in a rich and fragmented flora: Implications for the management of genetic resources and evolutionary processes in south-west Australian plants



Defining conservation units in a rich and fragmented flora: Implications for the management of genetic resources and evolutionary processes in south-west Australian plants



Australian Journal of Botany 48(3): 329-339



The south-west Australian flora shows a diverse array of evolutionary patterns and exceptionally high species diversity. A significant component of this flora consists of relictual species which often have naturally fragmented and geographically restricted distributions. Many of these species appear to apportion significant levels of genetic diversity among populations. Diversity at both the population and species level presents a major challenge to the development of appropriate conservation strategies for this flora. To be effective these strategies should not only aim to preserve current levels of species diversity, but also consider intraspecific variation and the evolutionary and ecological processes associated with the generation and maintenance of that variation. The identification and characterisation of conservation units, based on population genetic structure and phylogeographic patterns within species, provide a useful basis upon which more general conservation principals can be developed for the maintenance of these processes. Population genetic structure and phylogeographic studies are used to show how conservation units can be identified in Lambertia orbifolia, Acacia anomala, Stylidium coroniforme, Stylidium nungarinense and Banksia cuneata, and taxa from a range of other genera. Determining conservation units in these taxa defines not only suitable units for their conservation but also the appropriate geographical scale for management. These findings indicate the potential this approach can have in determining strategies and priorities for the conservation of the south-west Australian flora.

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Accession: 010421409

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