Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Ecophysiological Perspective on Co-Occurring Invasive and Endangered Species; The Case of Lantana strigocamara and Lantana depressa Public Deposited

  • Invasive plant species pose a major threat to ecosystems, landscapes, and species around the world by lowering biodiversity, outcompeting natives for resources, and, in some cases, pushing endangered species out of existence. By comparing co-occurring invasive and native species, we can gain insight into how and why invasive species are able to thrive and persist. Ecophysiology and stress-response is one insightful avenue because it provides an estimate of overall fitness and adaptation capabilities. I compared the invasive, ornamental Lantana strigocamara, which has invaded tropical ecosystems across the globe, with its close relatives that co-occur in the pine rocklands the endangered Lantana depressa as well as Lantana involucrata. L. strigocamara and L. depressa grow together in Miami-Dade County and may be hybridizing, which could contribute to driving L. depressa towards extinction. I measured stress-resistance traits for both species and their possible hybrids to determine whether there are physiological differences between these two species, anticipating the invasive L. strigocamara to show higher stresstolerance. I also used genome size to test for hybridization. I found that L. depressa and L. strigocamara are remarkably similar physiologically, though they have very different genome sizes. I also found no clear evidence of hybridization between these two species, even though many individuals show intermediate morphologies. This study has implications for further research into the differences between these two species, as well as their hybridization, and provides a morphological key for distinguishing between the species.

Date Awarded
  • 2023-03-17
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Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2023-04-17
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