Genetic differences in the Posidonia oceanica meadow of Monterosso al Mare (NW Mediterranean, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) "Cinque Terre") were compared in three stations, at an increasing distance from a source of impact (beach nourishment) in the recent decade. Random amplified polymorphic DNA analysis showed a higher genetic variability (>20 %) in the area directly subjected to the stress, increasing with time. Clone integration, confirmed by phenotypic analysis, showed increases both in shoot density and leaf length connected to genetic differences observed in DNA fingerprints of new shoots. Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) showed 45 % individual differences within populations and 54 % among the populations. The fixation index (FST= 0.54), of the genetic differentiation, showed a marked difference between the populations at different temporal scales. Over a decade AMOVA indicated genetic variations from 28 % (1998) to 54 % (2009). These results make it clear that in the P. oceanica population examined the environment had, in ten years, selected those clones which were more resistant to the anthropogenic impact, despite being subjected to the effects of the resuspension of fine sediments. These findings could help to explain both the survival of the regressed Mediterranean P. oceanica meadows in areas subjected to moderate impacts and the extreme variability in success of revegetation experiments. Management of the ecological disturbance here described indicates also the timescale in population response to stress and its increased resilience in MPAs. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change