Thursday, June 28, 2018, 7:30 p.m.: Talks by two of our award recipients: This month we have 20-minute talks from two CNPS San Gabriel Mountains Chapter award recipients. Sophie Winitsky is a second year Masters Student at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic garden and received a student research grant in 2016 from the CNPS San Gabriel Mountains Chapter.  She will be presenting an update on her research project. Dylan Cohen is a PhD student at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and was awarded a stipend to attend the CNPS Conservation Conference. Dylan's talk covers the research he presented at the conference.

A vascular flora of the Adobe Valley and surrounding hills, Mono County, CA, with Sophia Winitsky: This study aims to document the vascular flora of the Adobe Valley and surrounding hills in Mono County, CA. Less than 100 herbarium specimens are recorded from the 90 square mile study area based on a search of the Consortium of California Herbaria, with little botanical documentation away from well-established roads or in the alkali meadows. At the center of the study area the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the River Spring Preserve, a 638-acre alkali and freshwater wetland. The preserve emphasizes the importance of the alkali flat ecosystem, a habitat that is representative of Owens Valley, but severely threatened by drought, trampling by cattle and feral horses, off-road vehicles, and water diversion. Alkaline ecosystems farther south have experienced more severe water pumping making the Adobe Valley a good place to establish baseline information to better understand sustainable groundwater extraction. In addition, there is a need for a floristic checklist of the River Spring Preserve as specified in the Preserve's 2016 Management Plan. Many endemic species have the potential to occur in the Adobe Valley and surrounding hills, so far Sophia has documented the following California Native Plant Society listed species: Allium atrorubens var. cristatum (Alliaceae), Calochortus excavatus (Liliaceae), Ivesia kingii var. kingii (Rosaceae), Cymopterus globosus (Apiaceae), Crepis runcinata subsp. hallii (Asteraceae), Plagiobothrys parishii (Boraginaceae), Spartina gracilis (Poaceae), and Sphaeromeria potentilloides var. nitrophila (Asteraceae), and Tetradymia tetrameres (Asteraceae). Her goal is to systematically document the vascular flora of the region, publish a voucher-based checklist, and increase the overall understanding of this severely threatened ecosystem.

Decrypting phylogenetic placement and specific level relationships from a recent radiation for the CNPS listed rare plant Mentzelia polita (Loasaceae), with Dylan Cohen: The Mentzelia section Bartonia (Loasaceae) is the result of a rapid recent radiation throughout the Intermountain Ranges and deserts of the western United States. Mentzelia polita is taxonomically placed within section Bartonia and is listed by CNPS as 1B.2, rare or endangered in California and elsewhere. The ‘subshrubby' Bartonia clade includes M. polita and occurs primarily within the Mojave Desert. Historically this group has been challenging, with distinctions between taxa subtle at best. Problematic species include M. polita, M. oreophila, and M. leucophylla. Menztelia polita and M. oreophila both occur in California and Nevada, while M. oreophila ranges more widely. Both of the former taxa have been suggested to differ morphologically between their CA and NV populations. Furthermore, M. leucophylla is a federally listed endemic only found in Ash Meadows, NV, but has been suggested to occur in habitats similar to Ash Meadows within boarder California. Geographically, Ash Meadows is less than ten miles from the boarder of CA. Mentzelia leucophylla also has been confused historically with M. oreophila. Restriction Site Associated DNA Sequencing (RAD-Seq) is used to elucidate relationships among members of the Mentzelia section Bartonia ‘subshrubby' clade. Further considerations are given towards a conservation plan for ‘M. polita' within California.