Professors and student researchers from Appalachian State University’s and UNC Asheville’s Departments of Biology have partnered in a federally funded project to assess several aspects of an imperiled plant in western parts of North Carolina and Virginia.

The plant, called Spiraea virginiana, has been on the federal government’s list of threatened species since 1990. It dwells solely in white water, high-gradient streams in drainage from the Tennessee, Cumberland and New rivers in North Carolina. The streams are in North Carolina and Virginia.

The project – funded with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant of $30,194 – is called “Assessing Genetic Diversity, Polyploidy, Reproductive Effort, and Fitness within Spiraea virginiana Populations.” It includes biology professors and students from both Appalachian and UNC Asheville. Between now and September 2017, they will collect plants and grow them under common conditions to measure their responses and assess local adaption. They’ll also perform breeding trials between isolated populations and assess fertility.

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