My dissertation research seeks to develop a better understanding of the disjunct populations of Malaxis monophyllos var. brachypoda in southern California. Malaxis monophyllos var. brachypoda is an orchid that is widely distributed across the northern United States and southern Canada but it is incredibly rare in California. In total, no more than 50 plants are currently known to exist in the state. Very little is known about the California populations of this orchid taxon, and despite its precarious existence in the state, it is understudied and lacks a conservation plan. This project will provide much needed information that will support conservation action with the ultimate goal of preventing local extinction of M. monophyllos var. brachypoda in California.
The first objective of this project is to census all known populations of M. monophyllos var. brachypoda in the state and to survey potentially suitable habitats for previously undocumented populations. The second objective of this project is to collect tissue samples and assess the genetic diversity of the California M. monophyllos var. brachypoda populations in comparison with other populations across its range. The third objective is to develop a conservation plan for M. monophyllos var. brachypoda, including implementing conservation actions such as seed banking, conducting propagation trials, developing horticultural protocols for future restoration, and establishing a monitoring program. The final objective is to better delineate the relationship between the populations of M. monophyllos var. brachypoda in California and the additional populations across the range of the taxon via phylogenetic analysis.