Clonal diversity in populations of the seagrass thalassia testudinum in rabbit key basin, Florida bay

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

Daniel L. Childers

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

James W. Fourqurean

Third Advisor's Name

Jennifer H. Richards

Date of Defense



Levels of clonal diversity within the seagrass Thalassia testudinum Banks ex Kӧnig have been predicted to be low. This species has historically been perceived as relying on vegetative propagation for growth and extension of meadows, the role of sexual reproduction has been poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that detectable levels of variation exist within large T. testudinum meadows. I employed a probability based hierarchical sampling design to insure a thorough spatial coverage of the area. This method also allowed me to investigate variation at three different spatial scales. Genetic variation was tested for using a microsatellite based DNA fingerprinting technique proposed by Zietkiewicz et al, 1994. Variation was detectable at all spatial scales studied. Comparison of genetic vs. spatial distance suggested a trend of isolation by distance. This study shows that sexual reproduction is more important within Thalassia testudinum than was previously thought.



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