Legacy of ancient ice ages shapes how seagrasses respond to environmental threats today

Deep evolution casts a longer shadow than previously thought, scientists report in a new paper published the week of Aug. 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Smithsonian scientists and colleagues looked at eelgrass communities—the foundation of many coastal marine food webs along the north Atlantic and Pacific coasts—and discovered their ancient genetic history can play a stronger role than the present-day environment in determining their size, structure and who lives in them. And this could have implications for how well eelgrasses adapt to threats like climate change.

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