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Factors Responsible for Honckenya peploides (Caryophyllaceae) and Leymus mollis (Poaceae) Spatial Segregation on Subarctic Coastal Dunes

Jean-Michel Gagné and Gilles Houle
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 89, No. 3 (Mar., 2002), pp. 479-485
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4131368
Page Count: 7
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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.
Factors Responsible for Honckenya peploides (Caryophyllaceae) and Leymus mollis (Poaceae) Spatial Segregation on Subarctic Coastal Dunes
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Abstract

Low water and nutrient availability and significant sand movement, salt spray, and soil salinity are typical of coastal dunes. These conditions are generally unfavorable for the various life stages of plants and especially for seedlings. However, the intensity of these stresses decreases landward, even over short distances, with significant effects on community composition. On coastal dunes in subarctic Québec, Canada, Honckenya peploides (Caryophyllaceae) colonizes the upper beach where it forms small mounds called embryo dunes. Leymus mollis (Poaceae) is mostly restricted to the foredune; however, a few individuals successfully establish on the upper beach, particularly on embryo dunes. We hypothesized that this differential distribution is associated with differences in the tolerance of the two species' seedlings to physical stresses. Honckenya peploides and L. mollis seedling tolerance to sand burial, salt spray, soil salinity, and nutrient and water availability was assessed in greenhouse experiments. Unexpectedly, our results showed that tolerance to sand burial, salt spray, and soil salinity was lower for H. peploides than for L. mollis. If seeds are available and seedlings tolerate the conditions prevailing on the upper beach well, why are mature L. mollis individuals rare in this habitat? We suggest that massive abrasion events (e.g., violent storm waves and ice thrust) restrict the presence of the species on the upper beach.

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