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Research Project: Plant and Microbial Genetic Resource Preservation and Quality Assessment

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Title: Distributions and Conservation Priorities for Crop Wild Relatives of the United States

Author
item Greene, Stephanie
item Khoury, Colin
item Williams, Karen
item SOSA, CHRYSTIAN - International Center For Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/15/2017
Publication Date: 10/12/2017
Citation: Greene SL, Khoury CK. 2017. Distributions and Conservation Priorities for Crop Wild Relatives of the United States. Abstract. 44th Natural Areas Conference, Fort Collins, CO October 12-14.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Our native crop wild relatives have proved useful as genetic resources in breeding more productive, nutritious, and resilient crops. Their utilization is expected only to increase with better information on the species and improving breeding tools, but may well be constrained by their limited representation in seedbanks and the ongoing loss of wild populations due to habitat modification, invasive species, climate change and other impacts. Urgent collecting and habitat conservation efforts for native crop genetic resources are therefore warranted. We present foundational information needed to guide this effort. An inventory of U.S. crop wild relatives has prioritized taxa related to a broad range of important food, forage and feed, medicinal, ornamental, and industrial crops. Utilizing occurrence data gathered from herbaria and genebanks, resulting potential distribution models are enabling the identification of hotspots of taxonomic diversity of wild relatives in the country, and a ‘gap analysis’ methodology is facilitating efforts to identify those taxa and geographic areas of particular conservation concern. Results indicate that a broad range of wild relative diversity remains to be collected. Numerous populations of high priority taxa could be actively managed in existing conservation areas, although many are distributed in areas without long-term habitat protection. We discuss the value of collaboration across agriculture and natural resources management organizations to better conserve our nation’s heritage of crop wild relatives.