Kuenzler's Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus fendleri var.
kuenzleri) is a federally listed species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
It shares many similarities with a common species, Fendler's Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus fendleri var.
with many intermediates.
This has caused confusion for land managers.
The BLM management of Kuenzler's Hedgehog Cactus impacts the multiple uses (i.e.
public land users) across the landscape as it restricts land management decisions in order to conserve the imperiled species.
Currently, there is no information on the genetic differences of the Kuenzler's Hedgehog Cactus, the Fendler's Hedgehog Cactus, and intermediaries.
Without this information it is difficult to determine importance of populations in order to prioritize recovery actions to enable the species to be de-listed.
The use of the most current genetic methods for defining species, plastome sequencing, microsatellite development and genotyping, and ddRAD sequencing is needed to accurately determine whether the two species and associated intermediates are in fact the same.
If studies show there are two different varieties it will be important to understand how the different Kuenzler's Hedgehog Cactus populations are related to each other across the landscape.
This information can help the BLM prioritize populations according to rarity of the element occurrences.
The objective of this project is to determine the genetic differences and similarities between Kuenzler's Hedgehog Cactus (all known element occurrences), Fendler's Hedgehog Cactus, and associated intermediates as well as the differences in population structure of the element occurrences of Kuenzler Hedgehog Cactus across the landscape in order to assist with land management decisions and potential de-listing of the species.