Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Plants--Variation; Liatris aspera; Prairies--Iowa;


The tall grass prairie is one of the most degraded and fragmented ecosystems on earth. Interest in conserving, restoring, and reconstructing tallgrass prairie began early in the 1900s, and has increased dramatically since the 1960s. Early restoration and reconstruction efforts relied primarily on seed collected from prairie remnants near the planting site, but with the increase in prairie planting efforts came a greater demand for large quantities of affordable, viable seed of native prairie species. Following an increase in the use of cultivated varieties (cultivars) of seed, concerns over the loss of genetic integrity of local populations and low genetic variability in prairie plantings have been central to an ongoing debate over the use of cultivars versus locally collected seed.

The Iowa Ecotype Project is an effort to provide seed of native prairie plant species that is readily available, affordable, and is produced in a manner that aims to conserve the genetic integrity of local populations and maximize overall genetic variability in the seed stock. The goal of this research was to use the technique known as random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD) to assess the degree and pattern of distribution of genetic variability of six remnant populations of Liatris aspera Michx., one of the species included in the Ecotype Project, and to discuss the results of the analysis as it relates to the goals of the project. Geographic distance and the potential age of populations as determined by the geologic landform on which they occur were both examined as potential factors in explaining the patterns of variation revealed by RAPD.

The results of this study indicate that the majority (78%) of the genetic variability in L. aspera occurs within populations while only 22% of the variability revealed by RAPD is due to differences between populations. There was no correlation between geographic distance and genetic distance (variability) between populations. No statistically significant relationship was found between landform regions in which the populations occur and the patterns of genetic variability observed.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Biology


Tallgrass Prairie Center

First Advisor

Daryl D. Smith, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (viii, 54 pages)



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