Morphological and genetic variation in Egregia menziesii over a latitudinal gradient

Sarah K. Henkel 1 , 1 , Gretchen E. Hofmann 2 , 2  and Allison C. Whitmer 3 , 3
  • 1 Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9610, USA
  • 2 Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9610, USA
  • 3 Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9610, USA

Abstract

This study characterized morphological variation in the kelp, Egregia menziesii, over a large geographic scale. Marked differences in rachis and lateral blade morphology were observed, suggesting local adaptation to the variable conditions of wave exposure and upwelling found across the study area. Observations of rachis type at different developmental stages indicated differential survivorship of smooth versus papillated individuals at sites with differing wave exposure. Variations in Egregia morphology have long been recognized and were previously used for discriminating species within the genus; thus, we tested the hypothesis that the different morphological forms reflect genetically distinct populations. Nucleotide sequences of the ITS regions did not reveal genetic structure among three, morphologically distinct populations providing little evidence for speciation in Egregia.

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Botanica Marina publishes high-quality contributions from all of the disciplines of marine botany at all levels of biological organisation from subcellular to ecosystem: chemistry and applications, genomics, physiology and ecology, phylogeny and biogeography. Research involving global or interdisciplinary interest is especially welcome as well as applied science papers dealing with emerging conceptual issues or developing technologies.

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