Teeling, Claire (2012)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
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The aim of this project was to combine species distribution modelling (SDM) with the results of a molecular genetic diversity study to make suggestions for sites on which to locate genetic reserves. This work was complemented by a molecular genetic diversity and a forest management policy study, to examine the potential for in situ conservation of the crop wild relative species, Prunus avium.
In order to identify the species distribution, the most widely available occurrence data were in the form of historical records, gathered from online repositories and herbaria. A selection of environmental variables were incorporated with occurrence records in the SDM software, MaxEnt, to estimate the existing and possible future distribution of this species. Different sampling methods and combinations of accessions were used to evaluate model performance.
This work was supplemented by the use of microsatellite marker analysis, to identify genetic distance among samples collected, covering the species‘ range. Clear separation was found between the individuals from the south-eastern edge of the range, and all other European samples. The effect of management practices on the persistence of wild cherry in managed forests and the impact of conservation policy was also considered, using case studies from the UK and Belgium, interviews and grey literature.
Results showed that the difficulties of obtaining reliable, unbiased data can be overcome, as long as these factors are considered in conservation planning. Suggestions are made for several potential reserve sites across Europe, in a variety of forested environments, with differing management priorities.
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