Living collections are important repositories of biodiversity. Understanding the history of domestication in paperbark maple, which is endangered in its native habitat in China, can help us better conserve the species through targeted collection.
This project seeks to understand (1) how many times the popular Chinese paperbark maple (Acer griseum, Aceraceae) has been introduced into the U.S. and Great Britain and (2) how much of the species’ genetic diversity is preserved in arboretum and botanical garden collections. We are using next-generation sequencing methods to trace the history of introductions of the species to the United States and Great Britain. In collaboration with colleagues at Morris Arboretum, Arnold Arboretum, and Beijing Botanic Garden, we are also sampling both cultivated and wild populations (targeting the Qinling Mountains in Gansu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, and Henan) to understand how adequately the plants in cultivation represent native genetic diversity of the species.