Chicago Botanic Garden holds at least five populations of this species in conservation seed collections dating back to at least 1997. CBG is planning to recollect seed from one these localities and submit seed for testing to a CPC's IMLS funded seed longevity study which will compare the germination-based viability and RNA integrity of newly collected and long term stored seed collections.
Regional endemic of the Midwest with dozens of occurrences, some with large number of individuals.
Threats to this species include: Genetic impoverishment (Les et al. 1992) Seedlings are out-competed (Les et al. 1992) Trail and/or road maintenance (Jones 1998) Intolerance to shade/Canopy closure (Les et al. 1992, Chicago Botanic Garden files) Deer Browsing (Chicago Botanic Ga
Fewer than 50 known populations (Les et al. 1991). In 1998 there were approximately 19 known populations in the Chicago area. It is difficult to know how many individuals are left because of the species tendency to reproduce via rhizomes rather than seed.
Genetic analysis of one population by the Chicago Botanic Gardens has revealed low genetic variability which may be contributed to the reduction in seed production (Chicago Botanic Garden files). Reduced seed production may be correlated to canopy light availability. Studies at the Chicago Botanic Garden found that an increase in light is associated with an increase in flowering. Future investigations will focus upon the effect of canopy light availability on flowering phenology and the impact of deer browsing. Other studies have suggested that Aster furcatus may be evolving the capability to self-fertilize (the ability to produce seeds without the aid of pollen transfer by insects) in response to changes in population size (Reinartz and Les 1994).
Some areas are managed to maintain the open canopy conditions that this species requires to flower & potentially produce seed.
Research is needed on the breeding system of this species, as it appears to be evolving in relation to population size and pollen limitation. Further study is also needed to assess the relationship of shade intolerance to flowering phenology and seed production, as well as the impact of deer browsing on plant survival.
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