Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 865-877

First online:

Multiscale Diversity in the Marshes of the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER

  • John D. RobinsonAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, University of Georgia Email author 
  • , Edgardo Diaz-FergusonAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, University of GeorgiaDepartment of Zoology, University of Florida
  • , Monica F. PoelchauAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, University of Georgia
  • , Steven PenningsAffiliated withDepartment of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Houston
  • , Thomas Dale BishopAffiliated withDepartment of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia
  • , John WaresAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, University of Georgia

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Factors that maintain genetic and species diversity may act in concert in natural ecosystems. Here, we investigate correlations between genetic diversity (in eight salt marsh species) and community species diversity. A significant positive correlation existed between genetic diversity and species richness, although the relationship was not significant for any species individually. Nonetheless, four of the eight comparisons showed strong positive relationships between genetic and species diversity. Additionally, several abiotic variables were used in a model selection procedure to determine what site-level characteristics might drive differences in genetic diversity in this system. The rate of larval influx, as measured by barnacle abundance on Spartina alterniflora, was the strongest predictor of site-level genetic diversity in our samples. Our results suggest that estuarine management efforts should consider recruitment rates when selecting areas for protection.


Genetic diversity Species–genetic diversity correlation SGDC Salt marsh GCE-LTER Settlement rate