Examination of morphological and habitat variation within Stenanthium gramineum (Eastern Featherbells, Melanthiaceae)

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Hannah Marie Cook (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://library.wcu.edu/
Katherine Mathews

Abstract: Stenanthium gramineum (Ker. Gawler) Morong (Melanthiaceae), has historically been anunderstudied species. This species is generally considered to consist of two varieties: var.gramineum, a habitat generalist, occurring on grassy balds, rock outcrops, and in dry and mesicwoodlands, and var. robustum, a habitat specialist, occurring in mountain bogs and wetmeadows. A third variety, var. micranthum is not formally recognized, but was described on thebasis of its small stature and unique granitic dome habitat. However, many taxonomists do notrecognize any of the varieties, suggesting that they are indistinct and sympatric. The purpose ofthis study was to determine if the three varieties of Stenanthium gramineum should berecognized as distinct entities, and at what taxonomic rank each should be recognized. Iperformed morphological and ecological analyses of the three varieties of S. gramineum,including taking macro and micro morphological measurements from the field and fromherbarium specimens, as well as measuring ecological characters of the field sites I visited. I then ran univariate and multivariate statistical analyses on the data collected to aid in clarifying the taxonomy of S. gramineum varieties. Results suggest that var. robustum should be elevated to species level, based on morphological separation, while var. micranthum should be recognized as a taxon discrete from the typical var. gramineum. The findings in this study emphasize the need for conservation of all varieties, as anthropogenically caused changes threaten their habitats. This is especially critical in the case of var. robustum, a mountain bog specialist of the Appalachians.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Appalachians, Bog, endangered, Featherbells, native, Stenanthium

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