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Glacier National Park

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Genetic diversity, as the fundamental resource of Glacier National Park (GNP), is central to the characterization of biodiversity present in GNP. Preserving the genetic variation in species maintains their intrinsic flexibility to deal with variable abiotic and biotic environments. Although often not readily apparent as visible morphologic (phenotypic) differences, genetic variation may occur 1) between individuals within a population and 2) between populations of a species. Managers need to consider these two components of genetic variation when mediating the effects of human disturbance in GNP. However, very little is currently known about these levels of genetic organization in GNP species. Our three year project examines the presence and patterns of genetic variation in two GNP species: strawberry (Fragaria virginiana Duchesne) and mountain brome (Bromus carinatus Hook. and Arn.). We are quantifying the amount and distribution of genetic and phenotypic variation using quantitative genetic and electrophoretic methods and are identifying phenotypic characters subject to natural selection, i.e., those characters important for survival and reproduction differences in populations.