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Genetic Diversity and Structure of Natural and Transplanted Eelgrass Populations in the Chesapeake and Chincoteague Bays

Susan L. Williams and Robert J. Orth
Estuaries
Vol. 21, No. 1 (Mar., 1998), pp. 118-128
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1352551
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Genetic Diversity and Structure of Natural and Transplanted Eelgrass Populations in the Chesapeake and Chincoteague Bays
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Abstract

The objective of this study was to gain baseline population data on the genetic diversity and differentiation of eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) populations in the Chesapeake and Chincoteague bays. Natural and transplanted eelgrass beds were compared using starch gel electrophoresis of allozymes. Transplanted eelgrass beds were not reduced in genetic diversity compared with natural beds. Inbreeding coefficients ( F IS) indicated that transplanted eelgrass beds had theoretically higher levels of outcrossing than natural beds, suggesting the significance of use of seeds as donor material and of seedling recruitment following transplantation diebacks. Natural populations exhibited very great genetic structure ( F ST = 0.335), but transplanted beds were genetically similar to the donor bed and each other. Genetic diversity was lowest in Chincoteague Bay, reflecting recent restoration history since the 1930s wasting disease and geographical isolation from other east coast populations. These data provide a basis for developing a management plan for conserving eelgrass genetic diversity in the Chesapeake Bay and for guiding estuary-wide restoration efforts. It will be important to recognize that the natural genetic diversity of eelgrass in the estuary is distributed among various populations and is not well represented by single populations.

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