Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 31–42 | Cite as

Effects of flooding and salinity on photosynthesis and water relations of four Southeastern Coastal Plain forest species

  • K. W. McLeod
  • J. K. McCarron
  • W. H. Conner


The influence of flooding and salinity on photosynthesis and water relations was examined for four common coastal tree species [green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica Marshall), water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica L.). Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum (L.) Roxb.), and baldcypress (Taxodium distichum (L.) Richard)]. Both chronic (as might be associated with sea level rise) and acute (similar to hurricane storm surges) exposures to these stresses were examined. Chronic freshwater flooding of green ash, water tupelo, and Chinese tallow seedlings reduced photosynthesis (A) relative to that of watered seedlings, while baldcypress was unaffected. Chinese tallow A declined with increasing length of flooding. A salinity increase of the floodwater to 2 ppt decreased A of baldcypress and water tupelo, but not A of green ash and Chinese tallow, which was already severely reduced by freshwater flooding. All seedlings of the four species died within 2 to 6 weeks when flooded with 10 ppt saltwater. Photosynthesis of all four species did not differ between 0 and 2 ppt watering. Watering with 10 ppt salinity initially reduced A of all four species, but the seedlings recovered over time. Photosynthesis was severely decreased for all species when flooded with 21 ppt salinity for 48 hours. Reduced A continued following the treatment. Photosynthesis of only green ash and water tupelo was reduced by watering with 21 ppt salinity for 48 hours. Flooding of low-lying areas with increased salinity would lead to shifts in species composition of coastal forests due to these differential tolerances.


baldcypress green ash flooding photosynthesis salinity Chinese tallow water relations water tupelo 


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Copyright information

© SPB Academic Publishing 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. W. McLeod
    • 1
  • J. K. McCarron
    • 1
  • W. H. Conner
    • 2
  1. 1.Savannah River Ecology LaboratoryUniversity of GeorgiaAiken
  2. 2.Baruch Forest Science InstituteClemson UniversityGeorgetown

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