The central role of dispersal in the maintenance and persistence of seagrass populations
Kendrick, G., Waycott, M., Hovey, R., Krauss, S., Sinclair, E., Lowe, R., van Dijk, K., Lavery, P., Verduin, J.J. and Orth, R. (2011) The central role of dispersal in the maintenance and persistence of seagrass populations. In: Ecological Society of Australia, 2011 Annual conference, 21 - 25 November, Hobart, Australia.
Global seagrass losses parallel significant declines observed in corals and mangroves over the past 50 years. These declines combined have resulted in accelerated losses to ecosystem services in coastal waters globally. Seagrass meadows can be extensive (100s of km2) and long-lived (1000s of years) with the meadows persisting predominantly through vegetative (clonal) growth. They also invest a large amount of energy in sexual reproduction. This paper explores the role that sexual reproduction, pollen and seed dispersal play in maintaining species distributions, genetic diversity and connectivity among seagrass populations. It also addresses the relationship between long distance dispersal, genetic connectivity and the maintenance of genetic diversity that may enhance resilience to stresses associated with seagrass loss. Our re-evaluation of seagrass dispersal and recruitment has altered our perception of the importance of long distance dispersal and has revealed extensive dispersal at scales much larger than previously thought possible.
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