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Abstract Detail

Population Genetics/Genomics

Hamilton, Ashley [1], Lopez, Anthony [1], Larkin, Patrick [1].

Understanding bed dynamics: seagrass genotypic diversity and growth strategies across different sampling scales.

Seagrass beds often form the foundation of coastal marine ecosystems, performing vital tasks such as nutrient cycling and serving as habitat for a variety of marine organisms. These beds are in worldwide decline due to the threat posed by human activities such as climate change and physical disturbances. Given their importance to marine coastal ecosystems they are subjects of conservation interest. Genetic diversity provides the raw, evolutionary material for environmental adaptation, making it vital for long-term species survival. Seagrasses reproduce both sexually and asexually (clonally) resulting in an additional layer of population genetic diversity known as genotypic, or clonal, diversity. Genotypic diversity has previously been shown to correlate strongly with several aspects of population fitness as well as recovery from disturbances. We analyzed genotypic diversity in the seagrass Halodule wrightii across three different sampling scales from sites along the Texas Gulf of Mexico Coast. Our purpose was two-fold: (1) to determine which sampling scale captures the most genotypic diversity per sampling effort, and (2) to determine if H. wrighttii vegetative (clonal) growth occurs using a phalanx (monoclonal) or guerilla (intermingled, polyclonal) growth strategy. We found that more southern H. wrightii populations exhibited increasing clonal diversity and guerilla growth patterns along with increasing seedbank density. As such, it seems likely that more southern populations are exhibiting higher rates of sexual reproduction. The higher level of sexual reproduction and clonal diversity has implications for restoration and conservation efforts in this important foundation species.

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1 - Texas A&M University—Corpus Christi, Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, 6500 Ocean Dr., Corpus Christi, Texas, 78412-4348, United States

marine flora
genetic diversity
clonal growth
foundation species
conservation and restoration.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: POPGEN1, Population Genetics/Genomics I
Location: Tucson H/Starr Pass
Date: Monday, July 29th, 2019
Time: 11:15 AM
Number: POPGEN1013
Abstract ID:82
Candidate for Awards:Margaret Menzel Award

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