Ross McCauley, PhD. (Assistant Professor of Biology, Herbarium Curator. Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO). Genetic differentiation between alpine and montane populations of Viola adunca (Violaceae) in the San Juan Mountains. $982
Given the evidence suggesting that the taxon previously known as Viola bellidifolia is distinct from the more widespread Viola adunca, I am investigating the extent of its segregation from the more typical form of V. adunca initially focusing on the region of the San Juan Mountains from where it was first described and is very distinct. I am working to determine if V. bellidifolia and V. adunca maintain a continuous gene pool between the two taxa or if they are isolated either through habitat differences, phenological differences, and/or chromosome compatibility. This work is being undertaken with students from Fort Lewis College in Durango and serving as a means to teach methods of systematic evaluation of species differentiation. It is hoped that this work will serve to increase our knowledge of these plants in the high alpine zone of Colorado, provide a clear explanation for their evolutionary origin, and allow for the application of a name at the appropriate level of the taxonomic hierarchy.