Inundation Frequency Determines the Post-Pioneer Successional Pathway in a Newly Created Salt Marsh

Petillon, Julien; Erfanzadeh, Reza; Garbutt, Angus; Maelfait, Jean-Pierre; Hoffmann, Maurice. 2010 Inundation Frequency Determines the Post-Pioneer Successional Pathway in a Newly Created Salt Marsh. Wetlands, 30 (6). 1097-1105.

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The effect of inundation frequency on plant community composition, species turnover, total and growth form cover, species richness, and abundance of individual species was investigated in a newly created salt marsh (Belgium) with a gradient of inundation frequencies from 0.01% to 100%. Cover of all plant species was estimated in 119 permanent 2 × 2 m plots along seven randomly chosen transects perpendicular to the main inundation gradient in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Plant composition change clearly varied along the inundation frequency gradient. The cover of annual species increased at a higher rate at higher inundation frequencies, while cover of perennials increased at higher rate at lower inundation frequencies. Species richness and the abundance of most species increased over time, indicating general absence of competitive exclusion among species. Conversely, the abundance and frequency of Atriplex spp., Chenopodium spp., and Salsola kali strongly decreased over time, indicating their early successional character. Frequent inundations hampered plant species turnover because of the low number of species which can tolerate that environmental condition. The appearance of communities dominated by Elymus athericus or Salicornia procumbens strongly increased over time, leading to a stronger separation of plant communities and an appearance of typical salt-marsh zonation.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Emmett
ISSN: 0277-5212
Additional Keywords: plant composition, restoration, species turnover, succession
NORA Subject Terms: Botany
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 29 Mar 2011 13:23 +0 (UTC)

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