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Results tagged “phrymaceae”

Sep 26, 2012: Harewood Plains

Harewood Plains

Bryant has already shared some of his photographs from the mid-May trip to Harewood Plains near Nanaimo, but I thought I'd share one of my own featuring both Mimulus guttatus (common monkeyflower) and Plectritis congesta (sea blush). You can read more about that trip (if you haven't already done so) from Bryant's accounts: UBC Botanical Garden Garry Oak Ecosystem Trip and a couple BPotD entries: Lotus pinnatus and Quercus garryana Ecosystems.

Mar 6, 2012: Mimulus spp.

Today's entry is again organized by Katherine for the UBC Celebrate Research Week series. She introduces Seema Sheth:

Seema Sheth is a Ph.D. student (Colorado State University) with the recently-appointed-to-UBC Dr. Amy Angert (Assistant Professor in the UBC Department of Botany (lab web page)). The lab studies the processes of adaptation in plants. Today's entry is from their work on species of Mimulus. The photographs, Seema informs me, are of Mimulus angustatus (purple/pink flowers) from Grass Valley, California, and Mimulus guttatus (yellow flowers) from the Red Hills Area of Critical Environmental Concern, California.

Seema (with input from Dr. Angert) writes about the evolutionary ecology of rarity in western North American Mimulus:

Most species are geographically rare, and all species occupy a limited number of areas, yet the causes of variation in the sizes and limits of species' geographic distributions are poorly understood. Identifying causes of rarity provides important insights into ecological and evolutionary processes such as dispersal, speciation, extinction, and adaptation. Understanding the factors that shape species' distributions also can improve our ability to prioritize species and areas of conservation concern, forecast changes in species' distributions in response to climate change, and predict the rate and spread of invasive species.

Properties of species' ecological niches, defined here as the set of environmental conditions under which births exceed deaths, may explain differences in geographic range size among species. For example, if a species can persist under a broader range of environmental conditions, then it should be able to occupy a greater geographic area than a species with a narrower environmental tolerance. This hypothesis predicts a positive relationship between niche breadth and range size. On the other hand, rare species may be more dispersal-limited, either because of intrinsically low dispersal ability or because they are younger and have had less time to expand across the landscape.

We are testing the niche breadth hypothesis within western North American monkeyflowers (genus: Mimulus, family: Phrymaceae), a diverse group of wildflowers that occupies a wide variety of habitats, including aquatic, alpine, grassland, and desert environments, and contains several species that specialize on microhabitats such as serpentine soils, copper mine tailings, geysers, and marble cliff walls. Due to their short generation times (6-12 weeks), ease of propagation, high seed production, and genomic resources, species in the genus Mimulus have become an emerging model in evolutionary ecology (Wu, CA et al. 2008. Mimulus is an emerging model system for the integration of ecological and genomic studies. Heredity 100:220-230). Further, the geographic distributions of Mimulus species vary markedly in size, are well-described, and largely encompassed within federally protected lands in western North America (Beardsley, PM et al. 2004. Patterns of evolution in Western North American Mimulus (Phrymaceae). American Journal Of Botany 91:474-489), thus representing an ideal group for testing hypotheses to explain variation in the size and limits of species' ranges.

To test the hypothesis that species with broader environmental niches occupy larger geographic areas than species with narrow environmental tolerances, we are using comparative and experimental studies. First, we compiled ~17,000 georeferenced occurrence records for Mimulus species that occur in western North America. We used these locality data along with climatic variables (such as annual mean temperature and precipitation seasonality) to model the climatic niche of each species and to quantify range size in multiple ways. Regardless of how range size is quantified, our results strongly support the prediction that range size increases with climatic niche breadth across species (see figure below ). To experimentally test these results, we are now quantifying niche breadth in terms of survival and growth of individuals across a range of temperature and soil moisture levels for six pairs of closely related Mimulus species that differ in range size. This will allow for a more comprehensive understanding of how broader niches may lead to larger ranges. Species with restricted distributions are thought to be more prone to chance extinctions than widely distributed species. Further, species with small ranges and/or narrow niche breadth may be more sensitive to climate change. Thus, understanding the relationship between physiology, niche characteristics, and range size will allow for better predictions of species' responses to changing climate.

Mimulus spp. - Niche Breadth Figure

Key to the figure (please note: not yet published formally and still requires peer review): Support for the hypothesis that niche breadth explains variation in geographic range size among species (N = 72). Raw species' data are shown here (transformed to meet assumption of normality), but results support predictions even after correcting for phylogenetic non-independence and sampling effort. Two closely related species that vary drastically in range size (see inset panel) and climatic niche breadth are highlighted here, and are part of an ongoing experimental study testing whether geographically restricted species have lower thermal niche breadth than their widely distributed close relatives.

Jun 18, 2011: Rehmannia glutinosa

Rehmannia glutinosa

An entry written by Alexis today:

Pictured in this photo taken by Daniel is the flower of Rehmannia glutinosa, from a plant growing in the UBC Botanical Garden. This genus is commonly referred to as Chinese foxglove.

Rehmannia glutinosa is a perennial herb native to China. It grows by trails and on mountain slopes, and can also be seen springing up through cracks in the pavement and walls in the Forbidden City, as noted by Lancaster in Plantsman's Paradise: Travels in China (2008). In the UBC Botanical Garden, a few small patches of the herb can be found in an unshaded area near the garden entrance. Every inch of the plant appears to be densely covered in hairs, which feel just as soft and fuzzy as they look. The flowers are neither fragrant nor eye-catching in colour but I found their shape uniquely endearing, as they resemble small hairy trumpets suitable perhaps for some tiny orchestra.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Rehmannia glutinosa is called Di Huang and has a multitude of purposes. When bruised, the leaves are a remedy for eczema and psoriasis. Fever, coughs and bleeding are just a few of the symptoms treated with the roots of the plant; they are also used in treating cancer and anemia. Rehmannia glutinosa is also one of the ingredients in the most popular women's tonic in China, "Four Things Soup", the other ingredients of which are Angelica sinensis, Paeonia lactiflora and Ligusticum wallichii. Apparently the roots are also edible, though I am wary of anything that supposedly requires being boiled nine times before ingesting.

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