Management decisions affecting the rare plant Arizona willow (Salix arizonica) will be aided by understanding genetic similarities among populations of this species. Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis was conducted on 20 populations of S. arizonica, 12 populations of 5 congeners, and 2 samples of outgroup, Populus tremuloides. A phenogram based on DNA markers shows clear separation of populations of S. arizonica from those of co-occurring willow species, but similarity is low (~37%) between Utah and Arizona populations of S. arizonica. Evaluation of the relationship of habitat characteristics and geographic distance to genetic similarity reveals that environment and genetic similarity are poorly correlated. Considering Arizona versus Utah populations, we found a significant negative relationship between geographic distance and genetic similarity (r = 0.936), but no significant relationship between interpopulation distance and genetic similarity within Arizona or Utah. The wide geographic disjunction of S. arizonica populations in Utah and Arizona appears to have existed for a long period during which genetic drift, random mutations, and selection for somewhat different habitats have pushed the 2 regional complexes along separate evolutionary trajectories. Preservation of genetic variation within S. arizonica will require protection of multiple populations in Arizona and Utah.
Thompson, Julie T.; Van Buren, Renée; and Harper, Kimball T.
"Genetic analysis of the rare species Salix arizonica (Salicaceae) and associated willows in Arizona and Utah,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 63
, Article 1.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol63/iss3/1