Phylogenetics and the conservation and utilisation of Acacia in Western Australia
Science Division, Department of Conservation and Land Management, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, Western Australia 6883
The genus Acacia is a dominant component of the Australian flora and many species have been identified as requiring conservation management, and as having potential for utilisation for a wide range of purposes. Phylogenetics is particularly valuable in the south-west of Western Australia where the complex evolutionary history has resulted in a diverse flora with both relictual and recently evolved components. Phylogenetic analysis contributes to conservation of plants through identification of unique evolutionary lineages, determination of phylogenetic value for conservation priority setting, and identifying phylogenetically independent comparisons between rare and widespread species. Phylogenetic analysis also contributes to utilisation of plants through the identification of genetic and taxonomic units, particularly for species complexes where variation is unresolved. The contribution of phylogenetic analysis to these aspects of effective conservation management and efficient utilisation strategies are discussed with examples from various Acacia species in Western Australia.