Populations of many freshwater species are becoming increasingly threatened as a result of a wide range of anthropogenically mediated factors. In the present study, we wanted to assess levels and patterns of genetic diversity in Ireland's sole population of the River water crowfoot (Ranunculus fluitans), which is restricted to a 12 km stretch of a single river, to assist the formation of conservation strategies. Analysis using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) indicated comparable levels of genetic diversity to those exhibited by a more extensive population of the species in England, and revealed no evidence of clonal reproduction. Allele-specific PCR analysis of five nuclear single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) indicated no evidence of hybridization with its more abundant congener Ranunculus penicillatus, despite previous anecdotal reports of the occurrence of hybrids. Although the population currently exhibits healthy levels of genetic diversity and is not at risk of genetic assimilation via hybridization with R. penicillatus, it still remains vulnerable to other factors such as stochastic events and invasive species. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Bibliographical noteThis study was funded by the Natural Heritage Research Partnership (NHRP) between Quercus, Queen's University Belfast (QUB) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) under project code QU08-04.
Bradley, C., Duignan, C., Preston, S. J., & Provan, J. (2013). Conservation genetics of Ireland's sole population of the River water crowfoot (Ranunculus fluitans Lam.). Aquatic Botany, 107, 54–58. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquabot.2013.01.011