Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)




Paul G. Wolf


Limestone mining in the San Franicso Mountain Range of west central Utah threatens the survival of a rare endemic species of buckwheat (Eriogonum soredium). This species is an edaphic endemic, only found growing on the outcrops of the Ordovician limestone mines in the area. Eriogonum soredium is a candidate for governmental protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, a common, widespread buckwheat (Eriogonum shockleyi) appears to be closely related to the narrow endemic. The genetic relatedness of the rare and and common species will greatly influence the decision of United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW)of whether or not to list the rare species for governmental protection. This study investiaged the amount of genetic divergence between the two species to facilitate the decision. I found levels of population divergence intermediate between a state of no genetic distinction, and complete genetic divergence. However, the two species fall near the genetic divergence end of the continuum. This situation is not uncommon in plants, and suggests that the two species are currently in the process of speciation. Considering their morphological differences, and the ability of the genus Eriogonum to hybridize, these two species show significant amounts of divergence. These results suggest that the continued treatment of E. soredium as distinct from E. shcokelyi is warranted. The USFW will use the results of this study to aid their decision of whether or not to list E. soredium under the ESA. Should the species be listed for protection under the ESA, limitations to the expansion of limestone mining in the San Francisco Mountain Range will be considered.



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