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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Seed and seedling dynamics of the seagrass, Zostera japonica Aschers. and Graebn. and the influence of Zostera marina L. Nielsen, Michele Erin


The seagrass Zostera japonica Aschers. and Graebn. occurs as pure populations and in mixture with Zostera marina L. along the intertidal regions of southwest British Columbia. At the Roberts Bank study area seed and seedling dynamics were studied in three vegetation zones: a landward monospecific zone of Z. japonica, a zone of co-existing Z. japonica and Z. marina, and a seaward monospecific zone of Z. marina. Many more seeds were produced than were found in the sediment, and even fewer germinated. Zostera japonica seeds were most abundant in the seed bank in the upper zones where there is high Z. japonica density. Even though seeds remained in the water column for up to two months, very few seeds dispersed into the lower zone populated by Z. marina. thus limiting Z. japonica's colonization of the lower zones. It is unclear what limits the dispersal of Z. japonica seeds. Of the seeds that were incorporated into the sediment few germinated (5% or less). When seeds were planted in buckets placed into the sediment, with and without Z. marina, Z. japonica was able to germinate, grow, and reproduce in one year throughout the study area. Seedlings that emerged earliest (in April) either did not establish or did not survive as long as those seedlings that emerged later in May and June. Seedlings were often found uprooted, floating in the water. The rim of the buckets and the presence of Z. marina shoots appeared to protect the Z. japonica seedlings, preventing uprooting, but the results were not conclusive. Once seedlings became established, they spread vegetatively at a rapid rate and can persist throughout the winter, either as reduced shoots or as overwintering rhizomes. These overwintering plants contribute greatly to the following year's population.

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