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COMPOSITION AND STRUCTURE OF A WEST TEXAS SALT MARSH

O. W. Van Auken, M. Grunstra and S. C. Brown
Madroño
Vol. 54, No. 2 (APRIL-JUNE 2007), pp. 138-147
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41425695
Page Count: 10
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COMPOSITION AND STRUCTURE OF A WEST TEXAS SALT MARSH
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Abstract

This study describes the distribution of species in a 21.6 ha inland salt marsh, consisting of three plant communities. The marsh community is along Leon Creek in the Diamond Y Spring Preserve in Pecos County near Fort Stockton, in western Texas (31°00.54' N, 102°55.49 'W). From driest (highest elevation) to wettest (lowest elevation), the sequence is a Sporobolus airoides (alkali sacaton, Poaceae) grassland, a Distichlis spicata (saltgrass, Poaceae) grassland, and in the drainage a Schoenoplectus americanus (bulrush, Cyperaceae) marsh community. The communities were simple, with a total of 15 species found in the marsh. The mean plant cover in the salt marsh was 59%. The Sporobolus grassland covered 26% of the marsh and contained six species including S. airoides with 52 ± 36% cover and D. spicata with 13 ± 21% cover. The four other species were Helianthus paradoxus (Pecos or puzzle sunflower, Asteraceae), Suaeda calceoliformis (seepweed, Chenopodiaceae), Limonium limbatum (sea lavender, Plumbaginaceae), and Sesuvium verrucosum (sea purslane, Aizoaceae) (‹ 5% cover each). The Distichlis grassland covered 50% of the marsh and contained nine species.Distichlis spicata had 50 ± 33% cover followed by H. paradoxus at 25 ± 25% cover, S. calceoliformis at 10 ± 19% and S. airoides at 6 ± 20%. The five other species were S. texanus (Texas sporobolus, Poaceae), Flaveria chlorifolia (yellow flaveria, Asteraceae), Juncus mexicanus (Mexican rush, Juncaceae), S. americanus and L. limbatum (‹ 2% cover each). In the Schoenoplectus community that covered only 2% of the salt marsh, there were 11 species. High cover species included S.americanus at 39 ± 33%, D. spicata at 22 ± 34%, H. paradoxus at 11 ± 26%, and S. texanus at 9 ± 14%. Seven other species had cover values of one percent or less including S. calceoliformis, J.mexicanus, Samolus cuneatus (brookweed, Primulaceae), Spartina pectinata (prairie cordgrass, Poaceae), Heliotropium curassavicum (alkali heliotrope, Boraginaceae), Agalinis calycina (Leoncita false foxglove, Scrophulariaceae) and Eleocharis palustris (spikerush, Cyperaceae).

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