Carex scabrifolia, a perennial herb that commonly grows on sandbars in lagoons and tidal estuaries, is threatened by habitat reduction in some areas of Japan. Clonal diversity and the extent of gene flow among ten populations located along the Seto Inland Sea and the Japan Sea in western Japan were examined using six microsatellite loci. From 299 samples, we detected 77 multilocus genotypes. The mean number of alleles per population was 2.8 and the mean clonal diversity was 0.23. Many populations consisted of small patches, and the mean number of genets per patch was 2.0. The average number of alleles per locus and clonal diversity were positively correlated with the number of patches within a watershed. Gene flow was detected between the Ichikawa River and the Ohta River populations along the Seto Inland Sea, and weak differentiation among populations located along the Seto Inland Sea was observed. Our results suggest that effective conservation of C. scabrifolia populations should include maintaining all patches within a watershed regardless of population size, thus promoting genotype preservation.
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