The cycle of seagrass life: From flowers to new meadows

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Understanding sexual reproduction and recruitment in seagrasses is crucial to their conservation and restoration. Flowering, seed production, seed recruitment, and seedling establishment data for the seagrass Posidonia australis was collected annually between 2013 and 2018 in meadows at six locations around Rottnest Island, Western Australia. Variable annual rates of flowering and seed production were observed among meadows between northern and southern sides of the island and among years. Meadows on the northern shore consistently flowered more intensely and produced more seeds across the years of the survey. Inter-site variation in clonal diversity and size of clones, seed production, wind and surface currents during pollen and seed release, and the large, but variable, impact of seed predation are likely the principal drivers of successful recruitment into established meadows and in colonizing unvegetated sands. The prolific but variable annual reproductive investment increases the probability of low levels of continuous recruitment from seed in this seagrass, despite high rates of abiotic and biotic disturbance at seedling, shoot, and patch scales. This strategy also imparts a level of ecological resilience to this long-lived and persistent species.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10456
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

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