Evidence for the Potential Hybridization of Ammophila breviligulata and Ammophila arenaria in the Pacific Northwest. Public

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/honors_college_theses/d791sj139

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  • Coastal dunes are dynamic and unique ecosystems. On the Pacific coast, dunes are generally dominated by the beach grasses, Ammophila breviligulata and Ammophila arenaria, two invasive species introduced in the early 1900’s to stabilize sand and create foredunes that serve to protect people who live behind them. Recently, a novel variant of Ammophila, a potential hybrid of the two congeners, has been observed on the coast and this project was aimed at investigating the possible source of this unique grass. To investigate, I measured morphological traits among four different grasses, A. arenaria, A. breviligulata, Elymus mollis and the potential hybrid. The potential hybrid was shown to be statistically different in morphology when compared to the other Ammophila species, and the native out-group E. mollis, including; intermediate ligule length, number of tillers per plant, and above ground biomass but greater tillers per m², tiller length, and below ground biomass. Further studies are needed on the presumed hybrid to confirm its genetic background, as well as its potential effects on the dune ecosystem. In particular, can it compete with its parent or native species and will it change the shape of the dune through biophysical feedbacks, thus altering coastal protection.
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