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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Preferred Name

Lane D. Gibbons

Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Biology


Conley K. McMullen

Michael H. Renfroe

David S. McLeod


North America is host to multiple complex taxa, and unresolved relationships in the genus Eleocharis (Cyperaceae). Of noteworthy significance, are lasting taxonomic uncertainties involving plants referable to E. tenuis (var. tenuis, var. verrucosa, and var. pseudoptera) of the E. tenuis species complex. Morphology of E. tenuis is traditionally recognized as being widely variable, and intermediate among taxa along a broad geographic gradient. Cytological and morphometric data however, indicate that the varieties of E. tenuis are unique in cytology, and are consistently delimited by five morphological characters. Furthermore, this study shows that cytological data correlates with unique morphological entities, and that three of the morphological characters selected for study are largely distinct between taxonomic entities. This study proposes that the current taxonomic rank applied to E. tenuis var. verrucosa does not appropriately reflect the evolutionary significance of this entity, and elevates it as a species distinct from E. tenuis var. tenuis and E. tenuis var. pseudoptera.

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