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MEPS 638:65-81 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13248

Differences in reproductive effort and sexual recruitment of the seagrass Zostera japonica between two geographic populations in northern China

Xiaomei Zhang1,2,3, Yi Zhou1,2,3,*, Shaochun Xu1,2,3,4, Pengmei Wang1,2,3,4, Peng Zhao5, Shidong Yue1,2,3,4, Ruiting Gu1,2,3,4, Xiaoyue Song1,2,3,4, Shuai Xu1,2,3,4, Jin-Xian Liu1,2,3, Xiaodong Wang6

1CAS Key Laboratory of Marine Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao 266071, PR China
2Laboratory for Marine Ecology and Environmental Science, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao 266237, PR China
3Center for Ocean Mega-Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao 266071, PR China
4University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, PR China
5National Marine Data & Information Service, Tianjin 300171, PR China
6Mashan Group Co., Ltd., Weihai 264319, PR China
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Coastal seagrass beds are pivotal but threatened marine ecosystems throughout the world. The seagrass Zostera japonica Asch. & Graebn. is an endangered species in its native range along the northwestern Pacific coast. In this study, we used ecological survey methods and microsatellite analysis to evaluate sexual reproduction and its role in recruitment of Z. japonica populations at Swan Lake lagoon (SLL) and Huiquan Bay (HQB) in northern China. Mixed annual and continuous meadows of Z. japonica at SLL produced a high number of seeds (mean ± SD: 40244 ± 18666 seeds m-2) and formed a relatively stable seed bank (1460 ± 417 seeds m-2) in the sediment. About 41% of the seed bank and 6% of shoots survived over winter, and recruitment from seeds accounted for 41 ± 24%. In contrast, perennial and fragmented Z. japonica at HQB had lower seed production (12501 ± 5748 seeds m-2) and a much smaller seed bank (10 ± 6 seeds m-2). About 66% of shoots survived over winter, but seedling recruitment was rare at HQB. Thus, relatively large differences in genetic and clonal diversity were predicted between SLL and HQB. Results of the microsatellite analysis of samples collected in 2012 and 2015 showed higher clonal (R) and genetic diversity (Ho) at SLL (2015: R = 1; Ho = 0.55) than at HQB (2015: R = 0.40; Ho = 0.42). These results highlight the role of sexual and asexual reproduction in maintenance and evolutionary connectivity of seagrass populations and emphasize the need to understand local recruitment strategies before starting restoration and management projects.


KEY WORDS: Endangered species · Sexual reproduction · Seedling recruitment · Seed bank · Clonal growth · Clonal diversity


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Cite this article as: Zhang X, Zhou Y, Xu S, Wang P and others (2020) Differences in reproductive effort and sexual recruitment of the seagrass Zostera japonica between two geographic populations in northern China. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 638:65-81. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13248

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