Thursday, April 28, 2016, 7:30 p.m.: Tuberous Claytonia of the Southern California Mountains: how many species are we talking about? with Tommy Stoughton: Tommy Stoughton writes about this talk: “I present a case study that supports recognition of multiple rare Claytonia species in both northern and southern California with a primary focus on the latter. I analyzed DNA and outward appearance to assess how well species can be identified— this information is used to clarify a long-standing history of confusing taxonomic treatments in California. Not currently recognized, Claytonia lanceolata var. peirsonii is ‘resurrected’ for southern California with significant additional ‘splitting’ (i.e., recognition of new subspecies), and a new species from the mountains of the Mojave Desert is also described. These species were found to be morphologically and genetically distinct from both each other and a more widespread closely related species, C. lanceolata — threats to these species include a continued loss of suitable habitat. Hybridization (i.e., crosses between two or more species) has been detected for a few Claytonia, yet southern California perennials have not been observed to occur together anywhere in their respective ranges. This case study on tuberous Claytonia highlights the need for integrated conservation management strategies that prioritize field observation and accurate identification of diverse plant genera occurring on ‘unusual’ substrates in southern California and elsewhere.”
Tommy graduated from the University of Redlands in 2008 before moving to Big Bear Valley, where he worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a Rare Plant Technician. In the San Bernardino Mountains, Tommy was introduced to the ‘rabbit hole’ that became the focus of his dissertation research — Claytonia lanceolata var. peirsonii. While Tommy cogitated on the significance of his discovery, he moved on from the San Bernardino National Forest to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, where he operated as the Seeds of Success Coordinator for a few years before integrating into the Ph.D. program there. Tommy is a southern California native through and through, born in Pasadena, raised in Glendora, schooled in Claremont, LaVerne, and (later) Redlands. He is excited and inspired by the ‘cryptic’ biodiversity still to be discovered in his own backyard.