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Does genetic diversity of restored sites differ from natural sites? A comparison of Vallisneria americana (Hydrocharitaceae) populations within the Chesapeake Bay.
Lloyd, MW; Burnett, RK; Engelhardt, KAM; Neel, MC
The goal of ecological restoration is to re-establish self-sustaining ecosystems that will resist future perturbation without additional human input. We focus here on the re-establishment of submersed aquatic macrophyte beds in the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay estuary. Degraded environmental conditions are often to blame for poor bed establishment, but genetic factors could also be contributing to low survival. We quantified the effect of restoration practices on genetic diversity in the submersed aquatic plant species Vallisneria americana Michx. (Hydrocharitaceae) in the Chesapeake Bay. In 2007, we collected 440 shoots from 8 restored/natural site pairs and 4 restoration stock repositories, and genotyped those individuals at 10 microsatellite loci. Restoration practices do not appear to negatively impact genetic diversity, and basic measures of genetic diversity within restored sites overlap with natural sites. However, small population size of restored sites, significant inbreeding coefficients within 3 sites, and low overlap of allele composition among sites provide cause for concern. These problems are relatively minor, and we propose several corrections that would alleviate them altogether. Managers should be encouraged by our findings as well as the current state of the genetic diversity within V. americana restoration efforts.
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