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Coastal wetlands are being greatly affected by global climate change, and understanding how tides influence plant connectivity can provide a basis for plant conservation and wetland restoration decisions in degraded and at-risk areas. In our study, we quantified the structural and functional connectivity of Suaeda salsa in the Yellow River Delta and explored the impact of tidal action on connectivity. The results showed that plant structural connectivity increased with distance inland from the sea. Similarly, seed connectivity was enhanced but gene connectivity was diminished when moving inland. An increase in the tidal channel branching rate was associated with a significant reduction in plant structural connectivity, and tidal inundation frequency significantly promoted gene connectivity. Tidal action was found to reduce seed circulation and germination, but this effect was not significant. Overall, it was established that plant structural connectivity is not equivalent to functional connectivity and that the effects of tides on structural and functional connectivity are inconsistent. In terms of achieving effective plant connectivity, tides can promote connectivity. In addition, when studying plant connectivity, temporal and spatial scales should be considered. This study provides a more comprehensive and insightful understanding tidal drivers of plant connectivity.
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