, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 171–178

Comparison of niche breadths and overlaps of halophytes on salt marshes of differing diversity


  • P. J. Russell
    • School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Sussex
  • T. J. Flowers
    • School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Sussex
  • M. J. Hutchings
    • School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Sussex
Studies on Populations

DOI: 10.1007/BF00039822

Cite this article as:
Russell, P.J., Flowers, T.J. & Hutchings, M.J. Vegetatio (1985) 61: 171. doi:10.1007/BF00039822


Comparisons were made of niche breadths and niche overlaps of halophytes growing in two emergent saltmarsh communities differing in the number of their constituent species and in diversity. Niche parameters were calculated along the major niche dimension of tidal inundation which was assessed using three related measurements, namely height on the marsh, number of submergences per year, and longest period of continuous exposure. This reduces the danger of measuring niches on one resource dimension along which species exhibit non-linear responses. Results obtained using these three measurements were very similar. Mean niche overlaps were significantly smaller, and most species had lower niche breadths, on the marsh with more diverse vegetation. These results agree with Pianka's (1974) niche overlap hypothesis; they indicate that competitive interactions between species are acting with different intensity on the two marshes, and that such interactions are important in determining the distribution limits of both low-and high-marsh species in the emergent salt-marsh community.


CompetitionDiversityHalophyteNicheSalt marsh

Copyright information

© Dr W. Junk Publishers 1985