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Eco-hydrological requirements of dune slack vegetation and the implications of climate change

Curreli, A.; Wallace, H.; Freeman, C.; Hollingham, M.; Stratford, C.; Johnson, H.; Jones, L.. 2013 Eco-hydrological requirements of dune slack vegetation and the implications of climate change. Science of the Total Environment, 443. 910-919. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.11.035

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Abstract/Summary

Dune slacks are a seasonal coastal wetland habitat, whose plant assemblages and soil properties are strongly linked to a fluctuating water table. Climate change is predicted to cause major shifts in sand dune hydrological regimes, yet we know remarkably little about the tolerance of these communities to change, and their precise hydrological requirements are poorly quantified. Dune slack vegetation and soils were sampled within five vegetation types across four west coast UK sites. Relationships between vegetation assemblages, and parameters of soil development (moisture, loss on ignition, pH, KCl extractable ions) and groundwater hydrological regime (annual maximum and minimum water levels and range, duration of flooding) were established to define the environmental tolerances of different communities. In multivariate analysis of the vegetation, the dominant gradient was hydrological: dry to wet, followed by a secondary soil development gradient: young calcareous organic-poor soils to acidic/neutral soils with greater organic matter contents. Most measured hydrological and soil variables explained a significant proportion of observed variation in species composition when tested individually, with the exception of soil nitrate and soil calcium concentrations. Maximum water level was the key hydrological variable, and soil moisture and soil pH were the key soil variables. All hydrological and soil parameters together explained 22.5% of the total species variation. There were significant differences in hydrological and soil parameters between community types, with only 40 cm difference in mean annual minimum water levels (averaged over 4 years) separating the wettest and the driest dune slack communities. Therefore, predicted declines in water level exceeding 100 cm by 2080 are likely to have a major impact on the vegetation of these priority conservation habitats.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.11.035
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 2 - Ecohydrological Processes > WA - 2.3 - Assess the responses of river, lake and wetland ecosystems to ecohydrological drivers
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 2 - Ecohydrological Processes
CEH Sections: Acreman
Emmett
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Keywords: hydroecology, sand dunes, groundwater, global change, water table
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Ecology and Environment
Hydrology
Biology and Microbiology
Botany
Date made live: 07 Jan 2013 14:18 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/20907

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