2020 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Stephen Novak


Global change threatens worldwide biodiversity and the structure of communities. This is of critical importance for keystone species within endangered ecosystems. For such species, an assessment of the level of genetic diversity within populations and level of heterozygosity of individuals is important for estimating the evolutionary (adaptive) potential of populations and the fitness of individuals. Sagebrush steppe ecosystems occur over a great expanse of western North America, and it supports many understory grasses and forbs, as well as the Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). Sagebrush populations face many threats to their survival, including overgrazing, invasive species, and climate change. We will use enzyme electrophoresis to determine the level and structure of genetic diversity within and among four populations of Artemisia tridentate subsp. tridentate (Basin big sagebrush) and two populations of A. tridentate subsp. wyominngensis (Wyoming big sagebrush). We will also estimate the mating systems (the amount of outcrossing versus self-pollination) of these sagebrush populations. The data collected in this project will provide insights into the evolutionary potential and fitness of the sagebrush populations and individuals analyzed in this study. These findings can be used to further support conservation efforts of sagebrush in a changing world.