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Resilience of Zostera muelleri seagrass to small-scale disturbances : the relative importance of asexual versus sexual recovery

Macreadie, Peter I., York, Paul H. and Sherman, Craig D.H. 2014, Resilience of Zostera muelleri seagrass to small-scale disturbances : the relative importance of asexual versus sexual recovery, Ecology and evolution, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 450-461, doi: 10.1002/ece3.933.

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Title Resilience of Zostera muelleri seagrass to small-scale disturbances : the relative importance of asexual versus sexual recovery
Author(s) Macreadie, Peter I.ORCID iD for Macreadie, Peter I. orcid.org/0000-0001-7362-0882
York, Paul H.
Sherman, Craig D.H.ORCID iD for Sherman, Craig D.H. orcid.org/0000-0003-2099-0462
Journal name Ecology and evolution
Volume number 4
Issue number 4
Start page 450
End page 461
Total pages 12
Publisher Wiley
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2014-02
ISSN 2045-7758
Keyword(s) disturbance
genotypic diversity
recovery
resilience
seagrass
Zostera
Summary Resilience is the ability of an ecosystem to recover from disturbance without loss of essential function. Seagrass ecosystems are key marine and estuarine habitats that are under threat from a variety of natural and anthropogenic disturbances. The ability of these ecosystems to recovery from disturbance will to a large extent depend on the internsity and scale of the disturbance, and the relative importance of sexual versus asexual reproduction within populations. Here, we investigated the resilience of Zostera muelleri seagrass (Syn. Zostera capricorni) to small-scale disturbances at four locations in Lake Macquarie – Australia's largest coastal lake – and monitored recovery over a 65-week period. Resilience of Z. muelleri varied significantly with disturbance intensity; Z. muelleri recovered rapidly (within 2 weeks) from low-intensity disturbance (shoot loss), and rates of recovery appeared related to initial shoot length. Recovery via rhizome encroachment (asexual regeneration) from high-intensity disturbance (loss of entire plant) varied among locations, ranging from 18-35 weeks, whereas the ability to recover was apparently lost (at least within the time frame of this study) when recovery depended on sexual regeneration, suggesting that seeds do not provide a mechanism of recovery against intense small-scale disturbances. The lack of sexual recruits into disturbed sites is surprising as our initial surveys of genotypic diversity (using nine polymorphic microsatellite loci) at these location indicate that populations are maintained by a mix of sexual and asexual reproduction (genotypic diversity [R] varied from 0.24 to 0.44), and populations consisted of a mosaic of genotypes with on average 3.6 unique multilocus genotypes per 300 mm diameter plot. We therefore conclude that Z. muelleri populations within Lake Macquarie rely on clonal growth to recover from small-scale disturbances and that ongoing sexual recruitment by seeds into established seagrass beds (as opposed to bare areas arising from disturbance) must be the mechanism responsible for maintaining the observed mixed genetic composition of Z. muelleri seagrass meadows.
Language eng
DOI 10.1002/ece3.933
Field of Research 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2014, The Authors
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30062636

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.