Factors affecting the population dynamics of Suaeda maritima at initial stages of development
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- Tessier, M., Gloaguen, J. & Lefeuvre, J. Plant Ecology (2000) 147: 193. doi:10.1023/A:1009854204841
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This study describes life history and population dynamics of the annual halophyte Suaeda maritima, at initial stages of seedling development, in salt-marshes of the Mont-Saint-Michel Bay. Effects of salinity on seed germination and seedling development were studied both in the laboratory and in the field. Salinity was measured as sediment electrical conductivity. Experiments in the laboratory showed that Suaeda maritima was relatively tolerant to salinity during the germination stage. In the field, germination occurred when soil salinity was minimal. Almost all seeds germinated in the field; this may explain the absence of a persistent seed bank. Salinity did not seem to affect the growth of seedlings either. Mortality in the field was attributed to physical factors such as anoxia during temporary immersion, burial by sediment and tidal uprooting. The intensity of these effects varied according to the location of Suaeda maritima seedlings: in hollows, along the edge of tidal creeks, in gaps among dense vegetation cover, or in pattern with Puccinellia maritima. Perennial vegetation did not restrict Suaeda maritima germination. In contrast, perennials such as Puccinellia maritima and Halimione portulacoides limited the development of Suaeda maritima seedlings since only a small number of this annual emerged beneath their canopies. The fate of seedlings depended to a great extent on the permeability of the perennial canopy to light. Thus, disturbance resulting in bare patches inside the perennial vegetation seemed essential for the development of this annual species. Suaeda maritima can grow in the presence of Puccinellia maritima so long as the latter present as an open matrix. Suaeda maritima may also benefit from protection against desiccation and tidal action where this occurs.