First off, Happy Spring (well soon..that is)
I'd like to start off by thanking everyone who donated to our Conservational efforts last year. We couldn't have achieved our goals without you, our cherished Members!
The ICPS is going to start off 2009 with a bang, as promised. Our main project this year will be focusing on Sarracenia genetics within the Splinter Hill Bog populations. The research will be led by Ashley Morris, Assistant Professor of Genetics at University of South Alabama. So far, the budget for all proposed research work is right at $3000.00
The ICPS has $2000.00 already allocated towards this new project. We are $1000.00 away from our goal. Soon, flower spikes and Spring pitchers will be rising to life throughout the Splinter Hill Reserve and that's when the work needs to begin.
Please feel free to donate to this cause by clicking here;
Below is the actual outline of the proposed research work at Splinter Hill for 2009. Remember, we can't do it without... you!
Thanks for your response. I appreciate both the ICPS and you taking time to consider this proposed work. I will put together a brief proposal and budget over the next few days (if I'm lucky, maybe later this afternoon). And of course, we're more than happy to provide the information you've outlined below. As for photographic logging, we need to do that anyway. Rather than collecting lots of plants as voucher specimens, we plan to photo document each plant that is sampled in the project.
As for timing, I know that flowers and pitchers will be coming up within the next month or so, and we want to hit the ground running. It is my understanding that TNC is prepping to burn Splinter Hill now, but I don't know the exact time frame or how many sites on the preserve. My goal is to put in our vegetation sampling plots immediately following burns, giving us the opportunity to start from scratch.
I can briefly outline what my student and I are planning to do, and as mentioned above, I'll try to send the budget later. Our preliminary field observations are based on Sarracenia leucophylla. A few summers ago, a colleague and I went out scouting for projects, and we noticed that in some sites, leucophylla is very textbook in morphology, while in others, there are a lot of intermediate forms that we assumed to be hybrids. I've been reading a lot of literature (particularly work by Aaron Ellison and colleagues) since then. In addition to the potential for hybridization impacting morphology, it also seems to be the case that soil nutrient content affects pitcher morphology. And of course, there are all sorts of questions about the validity of various taxonomic boundaries in Sarracenia, particularly when it comes to subspecies and varieties. Splinter Hill is a fantastic site because it has some of the largest intact leucophylla pops, but also because it has so many different Sarracenia species (including the somewhat controversial rosea), and there is ecological differentiation across the landscape. It forms a bit of a natural lab for experimental studies. Our goal is to select some number of bogs within Splinter Hill (to be determined by budget) and complete the following:
1) establish a CVS-style vegetation plot in each site (20m X 50m); the vegetative community will be sampled biweekly following CVS protocols throughout the growing season to document all associates at each site
2) Sarracenia (of all species) will be sampled every 5m along parallel transects separated by 5m so that a maximum of 56 plants will be sampled in each CVS plot; this will not be done biweekly, but rather once or twice during the course of the project
3) sampling will include: collection of a small portion of leaf material for genetic work (i can describe this in more detail if you like; this will be the bulk of the cost); morphological measurements of the largest pitcher from each plant to document morphological variation within and among species (based on work by Ellison and by Rob Naczi); when possible, floral measurements will also be made for sampled plants
4) within each sampling plot, we also intend to collect data for soil nutrient content and tissue nutrient content (from the Sarracenia themselves); this will require soil samples collected within our plots (number determined by budget) and limited leaf tissue for nutrient analysis of what the plants are actually getting from the soil.
Statistical analyses will then be used to look for correlated patterns in all of these factors to id species boundaries, factors controlling morphological variation within and among Sarracenia species, and extent of hybridzation (who are the most likely to hybridize?).
Please let me know if you need more detail than this. The genetic approach we will use is called microsatellites, which is considered the best tool for looking at recent gene flow/hybridization in plant and animal systems. There have been no publications in Sarracenia using this fine-scale approach, although I do have a colleague at LSU who is using it in alata.
Ashley B. Morris
Assistant Professor, Genetics
Department of Biology
University of South Alabama
Mobile, AL 36688