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Personal Observation

Dramatic variation in Spartina clonal morphology

At the north end of Cabretta Island, Spartina alterniflora is re-invading the island and forming marsh again. Because there currently are scattered clones, it is easy to see dramatic variation in clonal morphology. Here you see one clone that is tall and very clumped, and another that is short and sparse. I've seen similar variation in a newly-forming Spartina marsh in China. You don't see the short forms in mature marshes because they are hidden (or outcompeted) by the tall ones. But what advantages allow them to persist in nature? There's a research opportunity here for an enterprising graduate student.

Dramatic variation in clonal morphology of Spartina alterniflora. Photo S. Pennings

(Contact Steve Pennings for additional information)

submitted Jul 15, 2021


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants OCE-9982133, OCE-0620959, OCE-1237140 and OCE-1832178. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.