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New Zealand Plant Protection 68 (2015): 112-117

The genetic variation in giant buttercup in New Zealand pastures

G.J. Houliston, D.F. Goeke, L.A. Smith and S.V. Fowler

ABSTRACT

Giant buttercup (Ranunculus acris L.) is a widespread species that ranges in latitude from northern Norway to Morocco in the native range, and has a large naturalised range in several countries, including New Zealand. Like many weed species with wide natural distributions, R. acris is a complex, made up of different genotypes and races across the native range. This paper shows R. acris in New Zealand has high chloroplast diversity and variation in genome size, even within populations, indicating that introduced material was diverse. Although it is not yet possible to determine the origin of R. acris populations in New Zealand, preliminary comparisons to R. acris sourced from other countries are presented. The importance of identifying the correct origin of naturalised species before undertaking control programmes, especially where biological agents will be employed, is discussed.

Keywords: giant buttercup, Ranunculus acris, invasion, genetics, biocontrol.

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