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Restoration Affects Sexual Reproductive Capacity in a Salt Marsh

  • Scott F. JonesEmail author
  • Erik S. Yando
  • Camille L. Stagg
  • Courtney T. Hall
  • Mark W. Hester
Article

Abstract

Plant sexual reproduction is an important driver of plant community maintenance, dispersal, and recovery from disturbance. Despite this, sexual reproduction in habitats dominated by clonally spreading perennial species, such as salt marshes, is often ignored. Communities dominated by long-lived perennial species can still depend on sexual reproduction for recolonizing large disturbed patches or for establishing in new patches, such as restored sites. We investigated the influence of restoration and elevation on flowering phenology, potential seed and seedling production, and insect flower damage of the dominant salt marsh grass, Spartina alterniflora, in reference and restored marshes in southeastern Louisiana, USA. We additionally tested whether elevation gradients or soil parameters could explain differences in sexual reproduction between sites. We demonstrate that sediment-slurry amendment restoration may not affect flowering phenology or insect flower damage at ecologically relevant levels, but that restoration activity increases sexual reproductive output at the patch scale. Restoration activity affected reproductive dynamics more often than changes in elevation alone. Restoration of subsiding salt marsh habitat by altering the soil environment may increase sexual reproductive capacity of these wetlands.

Keywords

Salt marsh Spartina alterniflora Sediment amendment restoration Sexual reproduction Seed germination Flower phenology 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the Coastal Plant Ecology (J. Willis, M. McCoy) and Ecosystem Ecology (R. James, C. Laurenzano, J. Lesser, J. Nelson) labs at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, K. Rogers, and O. Chapman for field and lab assistance. B. Chiviou at the USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center was instrumental in interpreting RTK data. Special thanks to L. Allain at the USGS WARC for starting us down the phenology path by lending us our first two time-lapse cameras, and to preliminary identification of Ischnodemus. V. Bayless at the LSU AgCenter identified I. conicus and provided copies of a genus-level key which was helpful. All data can be found at ScienceBase ( https://doi.org/10.5066/P9HQDP8O). Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US Government.

Funding

This research was partially funded by a grant to SFJ from the Ecology Center at ULL and the Society of Wetland Scientists.

Supplementary material

12237_2019_552_MOESM1_ESM.docx (6.4 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 6587 kb)

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Copyright information

©  This is a U.S. government work and its text is not subject to copyright protection in the United States; however, its text may be subject to foreign copyright protection  2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Louisiana at LafayetteLafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Western Ecological Research CenterU.S. Geological SurveyDavisUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyNational University SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  4. 4.Wetland and Aquatic Research CenterU.S. Geological SurveyLafayetteUSA

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