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Botanica Marina

Editor-in-Chief: Dring, Matthew

IMPACT FACTOR 2015: 1.250

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The effect of boat propeller scarring intensity on genetic variation in a subtropical seagrass species

Patrick D. Larkin1 / Krista L. Heideman2 / Dana D. Burfeind3 / Gregory W. Stunz4

1Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX 78412-5802, USA

2Department of Biology, New Mexico State University, MSC 3AF, PO Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001, USA

3Water Studies, School of Engineering, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia

4Department of Life Sciences, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX 78412-5869, USA

Corresponding author

Citation Information: Botanica Marina. Volume 53, Issue 1, Pages 99–102, ISSN (Online) 1437-4323, ISSN (Print) 0006-8055, DOI: 10.1515/BOT.2010.004, December 2009

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We report here the effect of one form of disturbance, boat propeller scarring, on genetic variation in the subtropical seagrass Halodule wrightii. We developed an amplified fragment length polymorphism assay to measure genetic variation in plots representing four levels of scarring intensity: reference (0% scarring), low (1–5%), moderate (5–15%) and severe (>15%). Although we found severely scarred plots to have the lowest, and moderately scarred plots to have the highest, mean genetic diversity estimates (He, P), differences among scarring levels were found to be non-significant (α=0.05). Analysis of molecular variance also showed no significant effect of scarring intensity. While propeller scarring can cause significant habitat loss, scarring intensities of up to 20% may not yet have seriously affected those factors (population size, flowering density, recruitment, gene flow) that strongly influence population genetic variation. The relatively recent occurrence of this type of disturbance, however, could mean that any long-term effects have yet to be detected.

Keywords: disturbance; genetic variation; propeller scarring; seagrass

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