Sampling Saxifraga nivalis in Norway.

Project Background

The Irish flora has approximately 16 plants that are considered arctic or alpine. We are currently studying a group of arctic-alpine Saxifrages with the aim to decipher their geographical origins. One of these species, Saxifraga nivalis, is particularly threatened and is limited to a small population of 17 individuals in Co. Sligo. This population could be the remnant of a previous broader distribution and could represent an ancient refuge of arctic plants. We are studying variation in chloroplast DNA to assess patterns of geographical variation across the range of Saxifraga nivalis.

Project aims

This project aims to assess the conservation status of Saxifraga nivalis by setting it in a global phylogeographical context. Molecular markers have been identified and are being applied to discern patterns of genetic variation within the populations.

Project Staff and Partners

Colin Kelleher (National Botanic Gardens), Evelyn Gallagher (National Botanic Gardens). Samples from Christian Brochmann (Natural History Museum, Oslo, Norway), Pete Hollingsworth (Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh), Natasha de Vere (National Botanic Gardens of Wales), and Dan Watson (Natural Trust of Scotland). The project is funded by Ireland’s National Television and Radio Broadcaster RTE as part of a documentary on the origins of our flora.