Geissorhiza Research Update

Evan Eifler
Sat, 23 Sep 2017 04:54:25 PDT
In response to Steven's email:

Hi Steven, thank you for your comments. You are absolutely right! It is
very much a possibility that both the Babiana and Geissorhiza are under
selective pressure (perhaps by local pollinators or some aspect of their
environment) that have caused the convergent evolution of both species to
one optimal morphology. It is also possible (though unlikely), that there
is some lateral gene flow between the two species meaning they have somehow
swapped a gene or gene complex that determines flower color and/or
morphology. To unravel exactly what's going on here would require
hypothesis testing with a rigorous experimental design, something I would
love to tackle in the future. In the meantime, I will be doing just such a
study (at least a pilot study) with a renown pollination biologist next
week regarding G. radians and the multiple similar species it cooccurs and
coflowers with - so more on that in the coming weeks.

And I share your conservation sentiment whole-heartedly. And would value a
discussion on the pros and cons of collecting rare species. It is somewhat
disturbing to pluck rare species, even Critically Endangered species as I
have done recently, but I don't do it because I like to, I do it because it
is required of me and because it ensures scientific integrity. One can't
publish on the genetics of organisms like Geissorhiza without having proof
that the genetic data they're using in their paper belongs to the species
they say it does, otherwise it would be very easy to make up, misrepresent,
or misinterpret data. This is why, for every species I include in the
family tree I am generating and will eventually publish for Geissorhiza, I
need to have a voucher specimen lodged in an herbarium somewhere that
proves that is the species I was talking about and if my analysis ever
comes into question may be referenced to confirm or dispute my findings.
Geissorhizas are really hard to identify and, although I am a large
proponent of photography, many characters that are important for
identification are very difficult to photograph so voucher specimens are
very important to ensure the accuracy and integrity of my work. Having said
this, I do take as few specimens as possible, and never more than the 4 I
am allowed in accordance with my collecting permit. I think sacrificing a
few to learn more about and raise awareness for the many is merited in this
case, but again, I would value a discussion on the topic.

Thanks again for the keen comments!
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