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Journal Article

Genetic Relatedness Influences Plant Biomass Accumulation in Eelgrass (Zostera marina)

John J. Stachowicz, Stephanie J. Kamel, A. Randall Hughes and Richard K. Grosberg
The American Naturalist
Vol. 181, No. 5 (May 2013), pp. 715-724
DOI: 10.1086/669969
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/669969
Page Count: 10
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Genetic Relatedness Influences Plant Biomass Accumulation in Eelgrass (Zostera marina)
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Abstract

AbstractIn multispecies assemblages, phylogenetic relatedness often predicts total community biomass. In assemblages dominated by a single species, increasing the number of genotypes increases total production, but the role of genetic relatedness is unknown. We used data from three published experiments and a field survey of eelgrass (Zostera marina), a habitat-forming marine angiosperm, to examine the strength and direction of the relationship between genetic relatedness and plant biomass. The genetic relatedness of an assemblage strongly predicted its biomass, more so than the number of genotypes. However, contrary to the pattern observed in multispecies assemblages, maximum biomass occurred in assemblages of more closely related individuals. The mechanisms underlying this pattern remain unclear; however, our data support a role for both trait differentiation and cooperation among kin. Many habitat-forming species interact intensely with conspecifics of varying relatedness; thus, genetic relatedness could influence the functioning of ecosystems dominated by such species.

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