Advertisement

Wetlands

, 26:845 | Cite as

Growth patterns of Carolina wolfberry (Lycium carolinianum L.) in the salt marshes of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, USA

  • Rachel E. Butzler
  • Stephen E. Davis

Abstract

The coastal salt marshes of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Texas, USA support a wintering population of the endangered Whooping Crane (Grus americana). Although the bulk of their winter diet is comprised of blue crabs, berries from the Carolina wolfberry (Lycium carolinianum) can contribute 21–52% of crane energy intake early in the wintering period. Monthly, from November 2003 to February 2005, we tracked L. carolinianum growth in nine 1-m2 permanent macrophyte plots along the estuarine gradient to understand the spatial and temporal variability of this perennial halophyte. Lycium carolinianum showed strong seasonal growth patterns, with leaf production peaks in late winter and again in late summer, just prior to flowering, but little significant spatial variation. Flowering of L. carolinianum occurred in October and November, and peak berry abundance coincided with the arrival of the cranes in late October and early November. During this period, the total number of flowers per plant and total number of leaves per plant across all sites were positively related to surfacewater depth and pore-water salinity. The numbers of flowers and berries per plant were significantly higher at our lowest elevation site during the 2004 fruiting season. Berries were rarely observed in the marshes for the remainder of each calendar year. Stem diameter was the best estimator of L. carolinianum aboveground biomass in ANWR marshes, accounting for approximately 94% of the variability (p < 0.001). Monthly changes in estimated aboveground biomass at each site revealed no distinguishable spatio-temporal trends. This is likely a result of L. carolinianum’s woody stem, which accounts for much of the total plant biomass but is much less dynamic than photosynthetic and reproductive tissues.

Key Words

Lycium carolinianum aboveground biomass berry production salt marsh Texas Gulf Coast Whooping Crane 

Literature Cited

  1. Alexander, H. D. and K. H. Dunton. 2002. Freshwater inundation effects on emergent vegetation of a hypersaline salt marsh. Estuaries 25: 1426–1435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Butzler, R. E. 2006. Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Lycium carolinianum Walt., the Carolina Wolfberry, in the Salt Marshes of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas. M.S. Thesis. Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA.Google Scholar
  3. Chavez-Ramirez, F. 1996. Food availability, foraging ecology, and energetics of Whooping Cranes wintering in Texas. Ph.D. Dissertation. Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, es.Google Scholar
  4. Copeland, B. J. 1966. Effects of decreased river flow and fauna on estuarine ecology. Journal Water Pollution Control Federation 38: 1831–1839.Google Scholar
  5. Daoust, R. J. and D. L. Childers. 1998. Quantifying aboveground biomass and estimating net aboveground primary production for wetland macrophytes using a non-destructive phenometric technique. Aquatic Botany 62: 115–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Deegan, L. A., J. Day, J. Gossleink, A. Yàñez-Arancibia, G. Soberòn Chàvez, and P. Sànchez-Gil. 1986. Relationships among physical characteristics, vegetation distribution and fisheries yield in Gulf of Mexico estuaries. p. 83–100, In D. Wolfe (ed.) Estuarine Variability. Academic Press, Orlando, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  7. DeLuane, R. D., S. R. Pezeshki, and W. H. PatrickJr. 1987. Response of coastal plants to increase in submergence and salinity. Journal of Coastal Research 3: 535–546.Google Scholar
  8. Dunton, K. H., B. Hardegree, and T. E. Whitledge. 2001. Response of estuarine marsh vegetation to interannual variations in precipitation. Estuaries 24: 851–861.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fejes, E., D. Roelke, G. Gable, J. Heilman, K. McInnes, and D. Zuberer. 2005. Microalgal productivity, community composition, and pelagic food web dynamics in a subtropical, turbid salt marsh isolated from freshwater inflow. Estuaries 28: 96–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fitch, J. A. and N. E. Armstrong. 1982. Prediction of salinities in the Matagorda Bay area. University of Texas at Austin, Center for Research in Water Resources, Austin, Texas, USA. Techni-Technical Report CRWR-200.Google Scholar
  11. Gallagher, J. L. 1975. Effect of an Ammonium Nitrate pulse on the growth and elemental composition if natural stands of Spartina alterniflora and Juncus roemerianus. American Journal of Botany 62: 644–648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Godfrey, R. K. and J. W. Wooten. 1981. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of the Southeastern United States. University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA, USA.Google Scholar
  13. Gough, L. and J. B. Grace. 1998. Effects of flooding, salinity, and herbivory on coastal plant communities, Louisiana, United States. Oecologia 117: 527–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gratton, C. and R. F. Denno. 2003. Inter-year carryover effects of a nutrient pulse on Spartina plants, herbivores, and natural enemies. Ecology 84: 2692–2707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hopkinson, C. S., J. G. Gosselink, and R. T. Parrondo. 1978. Aboveground production of seven marsh plant species in coastal Louisiana. Ecology 59: 760–769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Howard, R. J. and I. A. Mendelssohn. 2000. Structure and composition of oligohaline marsh plant communities exposed to salinity pulses. Aquatic Botany 68: 143–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jassby, A. D., W. J. Kimmerer, S. G. Monismith, C. Armor, J. E. Cloern, T. M. Powell, J. R. Schubel, and T. J. Vendilinski. 1995. Isohaline position as a habitat indicator for estuarine populations. Ecological Applications 5: 272–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kennish, M. J. 2001. Coastal salt marsh systems in the U.S.: a review of anthropogenic impacts. Journal of Coastal Research 17: 731–748.Google Scholar
  19. Kuhn, N. L. and J. B. Zedler. 1997. Differential effects of salinity and soil saturation on native and exotic plants of a coastal salt marsh. Estuaries 20: 391–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kuhn, N. L. and I. A. Mendelssohn. 1999. Halophyte sustainability and sea level rise: mechanisms of impact and possible solutions. p. 113–126, In H. Leith (ed.) Halophyte Uses in Different Climates. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands.Google Scholar
  21. Loneragan, N. R. and S. E. Bunn. 1999. River flows and estuarine ecosystems: Implications for coastal fisheries from a review and a case study of the Logan River, southeast Queensland. Australian Journal of Ecology 24: 431–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McKee, K. L. and I. A. Mendelssohn. 1989. Response of a freshwater marsh plant community to increased salinity and increased water level. Aquatic Botany 34: 301–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Montagna, P. A., R. D. Kalke, and C. Ritter. 2002. Effect of restored freshwater inflow on macrofauna and meiofauna in upper Rincon Bayou, Texas, USA. Estuaries 25: 1426–1435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Morris, J. T. and B. Haskin. A 5-yr record of annual primary production and stand characteristics of Spartina alterniflora. Ecology 71: 2209–2217.Google Scholar
  25. Odum, W. E. 1988. Comparative ecology of tidal freshwater and salt marshes. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 19: 147–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pennings, S. C. and R. M. Callaway. 1992. Salt marsh plant zonation: the relative importance of competition and physical factors. Ecology 73: 681–690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pezeshki, S. R. and R. D. DeLaune. 1991. A comparitive study of aboveground productivity of dominant U.S. Gulf Coast marsh species. Journal of Vegetation Science 2: 331–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Smart, M. R. and J. W. Barko. 1980. Nitrogen nutrition and salinity tolerance of Distichlis spicata and Spartina alterniflora. Ecology 6: 630–638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Stutzenbaker, C. D. 1999. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of the Western Gulf Coast. Texas Parks and Wildlife Press, Austin, TX, USA.Google Scholar
  30. Sullivan, G. and G. Noe. 2001. Distribution of plant species in coastal wetlands of San Diego County. p. 369–394, In J. Zedler (ed.) Handbook for Restoring Tidal Wetlands, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  31. Thursby, G. B., M. M. Chintala, D. Stetson, C. Wigand, and D. M. Champlin. 2002. A rapid, non-destructive method for estimating aboveground biomass of salt marsh grasses. Wetlands 22: 626–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Zedler, J. B. 1983. Freshwater impacts in normally hypersaline marshes. Estuaries 6: 346–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Wildlife and Fisheries SciencesTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

Personalised recommendations