Genetic variability of New Zealand seagrass (Zostera muelleri) assessed at multiple spatial scales

We conducted RAPD analyses at multiple spatial scales to contribute to the conservation and future restoration of New Zealand's seagrass, Zostera muelleri Irmisch ex Asch. (Zosteraceae). Initially we focused on fine-scale genetic variation within two estuaries on the North Island, one on the East coast the other on the West coast. Within each estuary individuals were genetically similar, however, there was clear genetic separation between the two sites (genetic distance D = 0.2965). Genetic variation within a sampling location (m scale) was similar to that observed among sampling locations (km scale) within a site (21% and 28%, respectively) and smaller than that observed between sites (51%). We then expanded our sampling to include a further six populations distributed across almost the entire latitudinal (ca. 15°) gradient of the North and South Islands. At this scale genetic differences were closely correlated with coastal currents. There was a clear separation between North Island and South Island populations and further separation between the East and West coast populations of each Island. Sites located along the same section of coastline were more genetically similar than those from the opposite coast and other Island. Genetic similarity was highest within each of the sites, indicating a low degree of gene flow between populations. We recommend that any future restoration and conservation projects use only locally eco-sourced materials for population augmentations.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Jones, T. C., Gemmill, C. E. C., Pilditch, C. A. (2008). Genetic variability of New Zealand seagrass (Zostera muelleri) assessed at multiple spatial scales. Aquatic Botany, 88(1), 39-46.