EKU Faculty and Staff Scholarship


Insights into the species delineation and population structure of Solidago shortii (Asteraceae) through morphometric analysis

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Patrick CalieORCID iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-3705-4742


Biological Sciences

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Short's goldenrod, Solidago shortii (Asterceae), is extant from a single locality in Blue Licks, Kentucky. Field studies demonstrated that this endemic is morphologically variable taxon, inspiring two questions. First, is the taxon known as S. shortii from Blue Licks the same species as originally described by Torrey and Gray from an extirpated population at the Falls of the Ohio River, Kentucky? Second, what is the extent of the morphological variation within and among populations of Short's goldenrod at Blue Licks? These questions were addressed through Principal Components Analysis (PCA), Discrimination Function Analysis (DFA), and standard whole-plant herbarium specimen comparisons. Whole-plant comparisons with other members of Solidago subsection Triplinervae revealed diagnostic characters suitable for the delineation of S.shortii. All speciments of S. shortii from both the Blue Licks and Falls of the Ohio localities shared diagnostic character states. For morphometric purposes, speciments representing two sympatric goldenrod species (S. ulmifolia and S. nemoralis) and one close phylogenetic relative (S. canadensis var. scabra) were sampled from the same locality as S. shortii. Vegetative and floral characters were analyze for all four taxa. Specimens of S. shortii from the Blue Licks vicinity formed a continuous cluster in PCA with specimens from the Falls of the Ohio, a cluster which was distinct from those formed by the other three species. In DFA, the Falls of the Ohio specimens were imbedded in the cluster formed by the Blue Licks specimens. Thus, the taxon at Blue Licks is indeed S. shortii, as established by morphometric analysis and whole-plant comparisons. In terms of interspecific variation, S. shortii at Blue Licks exhibited a similar or greater range of variation than either of the two more common Solidago taxa found at Blue Licks, S. canadensis var. scabra and S. nemoralis. The range of morphological variation exhibited by S. ulmifolia was slightly greater than that of S. shortii. These data also indicate a greater variability within and among Blue Licks populations of S. shortii than otherwise might be expected for a species of highly restricted distribution, and have major implications regarding management policies.

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