Christopher McCarron Sciences
The Population Genetics of the Serpentine Endemic, Leather Oak (Quercus durata)
Soils derived from serpentine rock host a unique flora while being distributed throughout California in scattered outcrops. Their insularity makes them ideal for examining the evolution and divergence of species restricted to them, such as the leather oak (Quercus durata var. durata). Chris McCarron’s honors thesis will use reduced genome DNA sequencing for 310 samples from 31 separate populations throughout Q. duratas range. Results will determine the levels and depths of divergence among populations, spatial patterns of differentiation, their timing of isolation, and whether there was a single evolutionary event, or multiple. Findings will have implications for oak conservation and management of populations with unique genetic structure in the face of climate change. Additionally, results will inform our understanding of Q. duratas past and how previous changes have affected it.