Conservation Genetics

, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp 969–979 | Cite as

Population variation and phylogeny in the endangered Chamaesyce skottsbergii (Euphorbiaceae) based on RAPD and ITS analyses

  • Clifford W. Morden
  • Monica Gregoritza


Chamaesyce skottsbergii var. skottsbergii is federally listed as an endangered taxon, and is found in small and isolated populations restricted to calcareous soils in dry shrubland habitats on the Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Molokai. Concern over the genetic relationship among these disjunct populations arose as a result of threats to the habitat of the Oahu population. The populations were examined using random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers and sequence analysis of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of the rDNA cistron. Chamaesyce skottsbergii var. vaccinioides, a closely related variety found in several small populations on Molokai, was used for baseline comparison of the genetic divergence among populations. RAPD analysis demonstrated that variation within and among populations is the highest for any Hawaiian species examined. Polymorphism was greater than 95% within populations and was 99.4% at the species level. Similarly, measures of genetic similarity indicate that differentiation among these populations is higher than is known for some species. Both RAPD and ITS sequence analysis indicate that populations of C. skottsbergii var. skottsbergii on Oahu and Molokai are genetically distinct, and the extent of this genetic differentiation supports the recognition of these populations as distinct varieties. The Molokai population is in fact much more closely related to var. vaccinioides than to var. skottsbergii on Oahu, and thus should be recognized by the previously used variety name, C. skottsbergii var. audens. Further conservation measures for each of the varieties are addressed.


Chamaesyce skottsbergii conservation genetics endangered species ITS sequence RAPD 


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We thank James Kwon for bringing this project to our attention and for assisting with collection of material, Winona Char for our discussions on Chamaesyce systematics, Alison Sherwood for assistance with analyses, and Joanne Birch, Susan Mazer, Tim Motley, Alison Sherwood, and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on the manuscript. Research was supported by funding from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and USGS Cooperative Parks Studies Unit, University of Hawaii.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Center for Conservation Research and TrainingUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA

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