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Abstract

Recent studies found seed size variation within the seagrass Zostera marina, one of nine species in the genus Zostera. The objectives of this study were to determine if variation also exists in the seeds of two other species Zostera japonica and Zostera asiatica within this genus. Results indicate that: (1) length and weight varied between two populations (one indigenous population from Akkeshi-Ko, Japan, and one exotic population from Willapa Bay, Washington, USA) of the small-bodied intertidal seagrass species Z. japonica, and (2) seed-size classes were discernable. Preliminary investigations were also initiated with a Japanese population of Z. asiatica, a large-bodied subtidal seagrass species. Z. japonica seeds from the exotic population were significantly (P < 0.00 1) longer and heavier when compared to those from the indigenous population, a finding which may help explain both the process of the earlier introduction and the recent expansion of this exotic in the northeastern Pacific. Also, preliminary results indicate that Z. asiatica seeds are heavier than both those of Z. marina and Z. japonica, which suggests that larger seeds may be associated with large-bodied plants in this genus, an observation that should direct future seed ecology studies within the genus. These findings demonstrate that, similar to the study of terrestrial angiosperms, investigations designed to describe the comparative ecology of marine seed-bearing plants should include an evaluation of seed size.

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© 2006 Sandy Wyllie-Echeverria, Victoria R. Wyllie-Echeverria, Algernon C. Churchill, Paul A. Cox

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