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Salinity as a Constraint on Growth of Oligohaline Marsh Macrophytes. II. Salt Pulses and Recovery Potential

Rebecca J. Howard and Irving A. Mendelssohn
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 86, No. 6 (Jun., 1999), pp. 795-806
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2656701
Page Count: 12
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Salinity as a Constraint on Growth of Oligohaline Marsh Macrophytes. II. Salt Pulses and Recovery Potential
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Abstract

The ability of common oligohaline marsh macrophytes of the northern Gulf of Mexico coast to recover from pulses of increased salinity was investigated in a greenhouse experiment with Eleocharis palustris, Panicum hemitomon, Sagittaria lancifolia, and Scirpus americanus monocultures. Components of salinity pulses applied were final salinity reached (6 or 12 g/L), salinity influx rate (3 d or 3 wk), and duration of exposure (1, 2, or 3 mo). After each exposure period, we placed plants into freshwater until the end of the 120-d experiment to determine recovery potential. The four species varied in their ability to recover from the salinity pulses. Within a species, recovery varied with final salinity level and duration of exposure, and to a lesser extent with salinity influx rate. Scirpus americanus, growth of which was stimulated by <3 mo of exposure to 6 g/L, was able to recover even under the most extreme conditions of exposure to 12 g/L salinity for 3 mo. Ability to recover decreased with increased salinity and increased duration of exposure for the remaining three species. Recovery of specific aspects of growth was also suppressed in these species by a rapid salinity influx rate compared to a slow influx rate. The complex variations in recovery patterns displayed by the different species may lead to changes in species dominance following the short-term salinity pulses that can occur during storm events, which in turn may affect marsh plant community composition and structure.

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