Rare species are of utmost conservation concern because they have very few individuals left in the wild and are narrowly distributed. Typically, they have lower levels of genetic diversity compared to their more common relatives. Given that low genetic variation may decrease the ability for species to survive in the face of environmental changes, it is imperative that we identify the most genetically diverse populations so they can be properly managed and conserved. The genus Cycas includes many rare species that are now subject to rapid changes in their habitat and have suffered population declines from a range of human threats. Queensland in the northeast of Australia is one of the most important centers of diversity for Cycas with 20 endemic species. Most Queensland species of Cycas are considered rare since they are only known from a handful of localities and are extremely poorly understood. The main objective of this research is to assess genetic diversity and population sizes of the rare species of Cycas in Queensland, and compare them to their more common relatives. For all Queensland species of Cycas, this project will generate (1) genomic data, (2) population estimates using drone surveys, and (3) updated occurrence data.
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