Effects of salinity and flooding on post-hurricane regeneration potential in coastal wetland vegetation

American Journal of Botany
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Abstract

PREMISE OF THE STUDY: The nature of regeneration dynamics after hurricane flooding and salinity intrusion may play an important role in shaping coastal vegetation patterns.

METHODS: The regeneration potentials of coastal species, types and gradients (wetland types from seaward to landward) were studied on the Delmarva Peninsula after Hurricane Sandy using seed bank assays to examine responses to various water regimes (unflooded and flooded to 8 cm) and salinity levels (0, 1, and 5 ppt). Seed bank responses to treatments were compared using a generalized linear models approach. Species relationships to treatment and geographical variables were explored using nonmetric multidimensional scaling.

KEY RESULTS: Flooding and salinity treatments affected species richness even at low salinity levels (1 and 5 ppt). Maritime forest was especially intolerant of salinity intrusion so that species richness was much higher in unflooded and low salinity conditions, despite the proximity of maritime forest to saltmarsh along the coastal gradient. Other vegetation types were also affected, with potential regeneration of these species affected in various ways by flooding and salinity, suggesting relationships to post-hurricane environment and geographic position.

CONCLUSIONS: Seed germination and subsequent seedling growth in coastal wetlands may in some cases be affected by salinity intrusion events even at low salinity levels (1 and 5 ppt). These results indicate that the potential is great for hurricanes to shift vegetation type in sensitive wetland types (e.g., maritime forest) if post-hurricane environments do not support the regeneration of extent vegetation.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of salinity and flooding on post-hurricane regeneration potential in coastal wetland vegetation
Series title American Journal of Botany
DOI 10.3732/ajb.1600062
Volume 103
Issue 8
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Botanical Society of America
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 16 p.
First page 1420
Last page 1435
Country United States
Other Geospatial Delmarva Peninsula
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N