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Ecological Genetics of Hill Cane

In some Southern Appalachian forests, one of the most abundant grass species is Arundinaria appalachiana (hill cane). This species of temperate bamboo was recently split off from two other Arundinaria congeners as its own species in 2006. In the formal publication describing this new species, the authors stated that very little is known about its life history.  No hill cane population has ever been observed to flower, suggesting that this species may share a similar life history with that of other temperate bamboos in that it is most likely a long-lived, monocarpic perennial. 

We are currently studying the spatial genetic structure of hill cane populations on the Domain and in Franklin State Forest.  Preliminary analyses suggest that clones on the Domain may span several hundred meters in size and be more than 500 years old!  This research will help us to understand the potential for hill cane to evolve and/or endure in response to future changing environmental conditions such as associated with climate change.


Current Collaborator:

  • Ashley Morris, Furman University

Presented Paper:

  • Evans, J.P., A. Morris, and E. Kikis.  2018.  Population ecology of a recently described North American bamboo species, Arundinaria appalachiana.  12th Clonal Plant Symposium:  Clonal Plants in Context.  Brunswick, ME. (July 29-Aug. 2).

Honors Thesis:

  • Everhart, Sidnee.    2021.  Environmental correlates of Arundinaria appalachiana (hillcane) distribution and abundance.   Honors Thesis. Dept. of Biology, University of the South. 

In spring of 2014, we set up a long-term experiment on the Domain in three different watersheds where we have been tracking the growth of hill cane clones with and without a treatment of fire.  In each watershed, hill cane is distributed in patches along streams and slopes paralleling streams.  We have excavated patches and found that patches are comprised of large clones consisting of branched rhizome systems that interconnect dozens of shoots. 

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