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Genotypic Variation and Clonal Structure in Coral Populations with Different Disturbance Histories

Cynthia L. Hunter
Evolution
Vol. 47, No. 4 (Aug., 1993), pp. 1213-1228
DOI: 10.2307/2409987
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2409987
Page Count: 16
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Genotypic Variation and Clonal Structure in Coral Populations with Different Disturbance Histories
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Abstract

Genotypic diversity in six populations of the endemic Hawaiian reef coral, Porites compressa, was directly related to habitat-disturbance history. The highest diversity (lowest amount of clonal proliferation) was found in populations that had been intensely or recently disturbed. In these populations, space was not limited and mean colony size was small (< 500 cm2), suggesting early stages of recolonization. In an undisturbed, protected habitat, lower genotypic diversity was a result of a significant degree of clonal replication of established genotypes. Unoccupied substratum was rare in this habitat, and average colony size was large (> 2500 cm2). Populations in intermediately disturbed habitats showed intermediate levels of diversity and clonal structure as a result of the combined contributions of sexual and asexual reproduction. Individual clones were distributed over small areas (< 4 m2) or distances (< 1 m) in young populations, and more broadly (> 256 m2) and over longer distances (> 90 m) in the older, undisturbed population. Interpretations of life-history parameters and estimates of total genetic variability in species that have the potential to reproduce asexually are dependent upon an assessment of the overall clonal structure of populations. The power of genotypic assays to reliably detect clonal versus unique colonies, as well as the spatial scales over which clonal populations are sampled, are critical to such assessments.

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