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Conservation Genetics of UKOTs Plants

Using a range of DNA ‘fingerprinting’ techniques to inform the conservation strategy of threatened plants in the UK Overseas Territories.

Collecting samples from Plantago moorei in the Falklands
Photo: Colin Clubbe

The Conservation Genetics group uses genetic fingerprinting techniques such as plastid and nuclear microsatellites, amplified fragment length polymorphisms and DNA sequencing to investigate questions relating to issues such as hybridization, species delimitation and genetic variability within and between populations of a species. The outcome of these studies is used to inform practical conservation management of threatened taxa.

The UKOT projects are chosen in close collaboration with the statutory conservation agencies of the relevant Territory, focussing on taxa for which genetic data will have a clear application in deciding management strategies. These include: which are the most appropriate plants to use for reintroduction to a given site; for micropropagation to bulk up numbers of a plant; or to determine the biogeographical structure of the genetic diversity of a species. Species currently under study include; pribby (Rondeletia buxifolia) from Montserrat, Moore’s plantain (Plantago moorei) from the Falkland Islands, Bermuda cedar (Juniperus bermudiana) and the blue eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bermudiana) from Bermuda. Results from our studies are then fed back into other UKOTs projects relating to these species and to the relevant agency/agencies in the form of conservation genetics reports, with recommendations for management changes in light of the genetic data when appropriate.
 

Project partners and collaborators

Bermuda

Department of Conservation Services, Government of Bermuda

Montserrat

Department of Environment, Government of Montserrat

Montserrat National Trust

Falkland Islands

Department of Environment, Falkland Islands Government

Falklands Conservation

Project funders

UK

Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP)

Bermuda

Government of Bermuda

Project team

Jodrell Laboratory

Robyn Cowan

Conservation, Living Collections and Estates

Martin Hamilton

Marcella Corcoran

College-based Sandwich Course Students

Laura Stevens (2009–10)
Sigurd Ramans Harborough (2010–11)
Charles Harris (2011–12)

Associates

Richard Lewis

Science Teams: 
Project Leader: