, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 1174-1183

First online:

Halophyte recruitment in a salt marsh restoration site

  • Roberto Lindig-CisnerosAffiliated withDepartment of Botany and Arboretum, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • , Joy B. ZedlerAffiliated withDepartment of Botany and Arboretum, University of Wisconsin-Madison Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


In restored salt marshes, seedling recruitment can be limited where large areas of soil are exposed and physical conditions are harsh. On a 0.7-ha excavated marsh plain, we studied recruitment as a function of abiotic (elevation) and biotic factors in 2 × 2 m plots planted with 0, 1, 3, or 6 species from the pool of 8 native halophytes. The random draws of 3-species and 6-species assemblages produced approximately equal numbers of plants per species for the experiment as a whole, yet only three species recruited> 10 seedlings per plot.Salicornia virginica andSalicornia bigelovii each produced> 15,000 seedlings in 1998, andSuaeda esteroa produced> 2,500 seedlings in 1999. For these 3 species, seedling recruitment increased with elevation in 1998, but this trend weakened in 1999, when species richness affected recruitment (fewer seedlings in more species-rich plots). Abiotic effects preceded biotic interactions in determining seedling recruitment patterns early in the development of the salt marsh. Effects of species richness appeared to be scale-dependent in that having all species present in the site likely enhanced overall recruitment (all species had 2 or more seedlings), while plantings of 6 species in a 2 × 2 m plot reduced seedling density.S. virginica was the only species that increased its presence and relative cover in the experimental site over the 4-yr study. Protocols for planting southern California salt marsh restoration sites could omit this species, but all others probably need to be introduced to restore diverse vegetation.