Sarah Wrobleski

Why I joined the ECS M.S. Program

To continue my understanding of the natural world

My research

My research focuses on population genetics of the western prairie fringed orchid. For my thesis project, I have be studying the reproduction dynamics and population genetics of the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid (WPFO), a native species to the prairie. Platanthera praeclara is an endangered and federally protected orchid, generally occurring in small, isolated populations due to habitat destruction. The restricted number of potential mates increases probability of inbreeding and a subsequent inability of the orchids to adapt to changing environments. The genetic structure and gene flow of the P. praeclara populations are not well understood. We have designed a study using microsatellite marker to answer the following questions: what is the genetic structure of WPFO populations? What is the level of gene flow among these populations? And what are the estimated levels of inbreeding with in each population? Answering these questions will hopefully lead to the preservation of this beautiful part of the prairies.

Awards and Honors

  • Robert H. Levis II Cross Ranch Fellowship