• amplified fragment length polymorphisms, Spartina alterniflora, average heterozygosity, restoration genetics, population differentiation, proportion of polymorphic genes


We collected naturally recolonizing Spartina alterniflora (smooth cord grass) from each of three restored sites and one undisturbed reference site in southwestern Louisiana to assess the impact of wetland restoration on genetic diversity. We used amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs) to produce 94 polymorphic genetic markers, which were used to characterize genetic diversity as average heterozygosity <H> and the proportion of polymorphic loci <P>. Overall our findings indicate that restored populations of S. alterniflora maintain levels of genetic diversity comparable to natural populations, which should provide some measure of resistance against environmental disturbances. Diversity estimates were lowest for the natural reference site (<H> = 0.1059; <P> = 0.2763), whereas estimates for the three restored sites ranged from <H> = 0.1148 to 0.1256 and <P> = 0.3114 to 0.3202. All sites maintained sufficiently high diversity levels to suggest significant rates of outcrossing. Overall, genetic differentiation among populations was small (Weir and Cockerham's Θ = 0.0645), with the values from each pairwise comparison among the populations increasing with the geographic distance between sites (range = 0.0490–0.1101). These values indicate an average migration rate of 3.6 migrants, either pollen or seeds, per generation.