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.
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 Leader: Cowan, Robyn S.
Conservation, Living Collections and Estates
College-based Sandwich Course Students
Laura Stevens (2009–10)
Sigurd Ramans Harborough (2010–11)
Charles Harris (2011–12)
Project Partners and Collaborators
Department of Conservation Services, Government of Bermuda
Department of Environment, Government of Montserrat
Montserrat National Trust
Department of Environment, Falkland Islands Government
Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP)
Government of Bermuda