An assessment of the seascape genetic structure and hydrodynamic connectivity for sub-tropical seagrass restoration

Jackson, Emma L., Smith, Timothy M., York, Paul H., Nielsen, Jesper, Irving, Andrew D., and Sherman, Craig D. H. (2021) An assessment of the seascape genetic structure and hydrodynamic connectivity for sub-tropical seagrass restoration. Restoration Ecology, 29 (1). e13269.

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Seagrass ecosystems have suffered significant declines globally and focus is shifting to restoration efforts. A key component to successful restoration is an understanding of the genetic factors potentially influencing restoration success. This includes understanding levels of connectivity between restoration locations and neighbouring seagrass populations that promote natural recovery source and sink populations), the identification of potential donor populations and assessment of genetic diversity of restored meadows and material used for restoration. In this study we carry out genetic surveys of 352 individuals from 13 populations using 11 polymorphic microsatellite loci to inform seagrass restoration activities by: i) understanding levels of genetic and genotypic diversity within meadows; and ii) understanding genetic structure and patterns of connectivity among these meadows to determine which source sites may be most appropriate to assist recovery of three restoration sites. The study identified high genotypic diversity within the locations analysed from the Port of Gladstone and Rodd’s Bay region, indicating sexual reproduction is important in maintaining populations. Overall, we detected significant genetic structuring among sites with the Bayesian structure analysis identifying genetic clusters that largely conformed to a northern, central and southern region. This suggests limited gene flow between regions, although there does appear to be some connectivity within regions. The hydrodynamic models showed that seeds were largely locally retained, while fragments were more widely dispersed. Limited gene flow between regions suggests donor material for restoration should be sourced locally where possible.

Item ID: 63883
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1526-100X
Keywords: Zostera muelleri, connectivity, genetics, dispersal, hydrodynamics, seagrass, restoration
Copyright Information: © 2020 Society for Ecological Restoration. The Author Accepted Manuscript version of this article is available Open Access from ResearchOnline@JCU after 14 August 2021.
Funders: Central Queensland University (CQU), Deakin University (DU)
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2020 23:15
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410206 Landscape ecology @ 40%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3105 Genetics > 310599 Genetics not elsewhere classified @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9612 Rehabilitation of Degraded Environments > 961201 Rehabilitation of Degraded Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 50%
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