Salt marsh plant zonation: the relative importance of competition and physical factors

S. C. Pennings, R. M. Callaway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

472 Scopus citations

Abstract

In Carpinteria Salt Marsh, Salicornia virginica (pickleweed) grows at lower marsh elevations than does Arthrocnemum subterminalis (Parish's glasswort). Standing biomass of both species was greatest immediately adjacent to their abrupt border, suggesting that conditions for plant growth were best here. Both Saliconia and Arthrocnemum grew better in the two middle marsh zones (high Salicornia zone and Arthrocnemum zone) than in either the low marsh (low Salicornia zone), where flooding was frequent and soils were waterlogged, or the high marsh (transition zone), where soil salinity was extremely high during much of the year and plant water potentials very low. However, Salicornia appeared better able to tolerate flooding, and so persisted in the low Salicornia zone, whereas Arthrocnemum appeared better able to tolerate high salinities, and so persisted in the transition zone. Interspecific competition was most important in the relatively benign middle marsh zones, where each species excluded the other from a portion of this prime habitat. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-690
Number of pages10
JournalEcology
Volume73
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1992

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