Calochortus-tiburonensis-2014-11-1  Calochortus-tiburonensis-2014-11-2

This talk will provide an overview of the projects my research team and I are conducting on the Threatened Tiburon mariposa lily. This lily is known from only one location in the world (Ring Mt) where it is restricted to patches of serpentine soil that are stressful even by serpentine standards. I will report how different populations of this rare plant fared during the last year, the driest in more than 120 years, and discuss what these results suggest for the long-term fate of C. tiburonensis in a rapidly changing climate. I will also present results that indicate that some populations are losing genetic diversity and this appears to be contributing to population decline. In contrast, other populations of C. tiburonensis appear to be stable and highly adapted to their local soil chemistry. This finding also has important implications for how we ought to (and ought not to) protect declining populations. I will also discuss how herbivory appears to contribute to a loss of genetic diversity, potentially hindering the plant’s ability to adapt to climate change.

Dr. Sarah Swope is a Plant Ecologist and professor in the Biology Dept at Mills College. She grew up on the edge of Mt Diablo State Park where she discovered her love of nature and, perhaps not coincidentally, her love of the genus Calochortus early in grade school. She earned her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on two groups of plants of great conservation concern: invasive plants (primarily yellow starthistle) and endangered plants (C. tiburonensis and Streptanthus glandulosus ssp niger). She is particularly interested in how both invasive and endangered species are likely to respond to climate change. She has been conducting research in California, including Marin County, for the last 12 years.