Australian Systematic Botany Australian Systematic Botany Society
Taxonomy, biogeography and evolution of plants
RESEARCH ARTICLE

A rare, new species of Atriplex (Chenopodiaceae) comprising two genetically distinct but morphologically cryptic populations in arid Western Australia: implications for taxonomy and conservation

Kelly A. Shepherd A B , Kevin. R. Thiele A , Jane Sampson A , David Coates A and Margaret Byrne A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Science and Conservation Division, Department of Parks and Wildlife, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, WA 6983, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: kelly.shepherd@dpaw.wa.gov.au

Australian Systematic Botany 28(4) 234-245 https://doi.org/10.1071/SB15029
Submitted: 24 June 2015  Accepted: 22 October 2015   Published: 23 December 2015

Abstract

A rare, new tetraploid Atriplex, restricted to two populations ~30 km apart in arid Western Australia, is supported as a distinct species by morphological and molecular evidence. Genetic analyses using amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs) showed significant genetic divergence between the two populations. In contrast, an ordination based on elliptic Fourier descriptors for leaf and bracteole shape did not identify any consistent morphological differentiation. Although the level of genetic differentiation is similar to that previously reported between subspecies in other Atriplex, the populations of the new taxon are described herein as A. yeelirrie K.A.Sheph. & K.R.Thiele, without taxonomic recognition at the intraspecific level. We outline our reasoning for this decision and discuss the implications for appropriate conservation management of the species, structured into two genetically distinct populations.

Additional keywords: AFLPs, conservation units, cryptic morphological variation, molecular taxonomy.


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