Conserving our botanical heritage
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Georgia plume (Elliottia racemosa) is a threatened tree endemic to Georgia. Current records regarding the species are difficult to use and only very general habitat descriptions are available. This study developed a GIS based conservation management tool using Georgia plume as a model system. Field surveys collected census information and habitat data for several populations using putative sightings provided by the Department of Natural Resources. An alarming reduction in the number of populations has occurred. Approximately 40% of visited populations no longer contained Georgia plume, with 58% of population loss attributed to human activity. Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA was used to evaluate genetic relationships among and within selected Georgia plume populations. Genetic analysis revealed that populations containing fewer individuals tended to have lower genetic diversity while populations with larger numbers tended to have higher genetic diversity. Two populations with numerous individuals that were sampled extensively displayed the greatest genetic diversity.