The endangered Mauna Kea silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense ssp. sandwicense) has experienced a severe decline in distribution and abundance because of predation by alien ungulates. By the late 1970s only a small remnant natural population persisted on the Mauna Kea volcano on the Island of Hawaii. The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, initiated an outplanting program in the 1970s to promote recovery of A. sandwicense ssp. sandwicense. Intermittent outplanting since 1973 has generated an outplanted population of over 450 plants on Mauna Kea, but the program has unintentionally resulted in a major population bottleneck. All plants in the outplanted population appear to be first- or subsequent-generation offspring of only two maternal founders from the natural population. Genetic variation in the natural and outplanted populations was assessed for 90 random amplified polymorphic DNA loci. Eleven loci were detectably polymorphic in the natural population, whereas only three loci were detectably polymorphic in the outplanted population. Thus, the population bottleneck has been accompanied by a 73% reduction in the level of detectable polymorphism. In addition, for eight loci, the population bottleneck has resulted in the loss of the marker allele in the outplanted population. A management strategy involving manual pollen transfer has recently been implemented to incorporate additional founders from the natural population into the outplanting program. As a supplement to the outplanting program, the strategy also includes a program promoting direct seedling establishment following manual pollen transfer. Incorporating additional founders may serve to overcome the legacy of the population bottleneck, especially if founder representation can be equalized.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation