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Journal of Ecology and Environment

Open Access

Zonation and soil factors of salt marsh halophyte communities

  • Jeom-Sook Lee1,
  • Jong-Wook Kim4Email author,
  • Seung Ho Lee2,
  • Hyeon-Ho Myeong3,
  • Jung-Yun Lee4 and
  • Jang Sam Cho5
Journal of Ecology and Environment201640:4

https://doi.org/10.1186/s41610-016-0010-3

Received: 2 February 2016

Accepted: 1 July 2016

Published: 24 October 2016

Abstract

Background

The structures and soil factors of Suaeda glauca- Suaeda japonica zonal communities and Phragmites australis-S. japonica zonal communities were studied in salt marshes of west and south coasts of South Korea to provide basic data for coastal wetland conservation and restoration.

Results

S. glauca community mean length was 67 m and S. japonica community mean length was 567 m in zonal communities, and P. australis and S. japonica community mean length were 57 m and 191 m in zonal communities. Regarding the electrical conductivity, sodium content, and clay contents in Upnae-ri, Shinan-gun, there were significant differences among zonal communities at significance level of 0.05 for two-sided t test. However, other factors were not significantly different.

Conclusions

The results indicate that multiple factors such as electronic conductivity, total nitrogen level, clay, and sodium might play important roles in the formation of zonal plant communities of salt marshes.

Keywords

ZonationSalt marsh plantSoil factor Suaeda glauca S. japonica Phragmites australis

Background

Zonal distribution of higher plants in salt marshes has been studied extensively for over a century. However, mechanisms of generating the segregation of salt marsh plant species are poorly understood (Caçador et al. 2007; Emery et al. 2001). In order to explain plant zonation, shore height is frequently used as an indicator of abiotic gradient in intertidal ecosystems. This is based on the implicit assumption that shore height is directly correlated with inundation frequency and/or duration (Bockelmann et al. 2002; Sánchez et al. 1996). The objective of this study was to determine structures of zonal communities and factors that might control salt marsh plant patterns and zonations.

Methods

The structures and soil factors of two zonal community types of South Korea were monitored and can be used as basic data for conservation and restoration of coastal wetland ecosystems (Fig. 1). Six Suaeda glauca-Suaeda japonica zonal communities (Table 1, No. 1–6 in 1998) and five Phragmites australis-S. japonica zonal communities (Table 1, No. 1 in 1998, No. 2–3 in 2005, No. 5–6, 2015) were sampled from the west coast to the south coast of South Korea.
Fig. 1

The first community length of occupation (d1, m) and second community length of occupation (d2, m) in salt marsh

Table 1

Zonal community name, first community length of occupation, second community length of occupation (d1 and d2, m), locations of six Suaeda glauca-S. japonica, and five Phragmites australis-S. japonica zonal communities

Zonal community name

First community length d1 (m)

Second community length d2 (m)

Locations

Suaeda glauca-S. japonica1

67

990

Kimje-gun Unpo-ri

Suaeda glauca-S. japonica2

100

100

Kimje-gun Sopo-ri

Suaeda glauca-S. japonica3

33

462

Buan-gun Songhyun-ri

Suaeda glauca-S. japonica4

100

627

Buan-gun Chulpo-ri

Suaeda glauca-S. japonica5

67

924

Kochang-gun Sinduk-ri

Suaeda glauca-S. japonica6

33

297

Kochang-gun Wolsan-ri

 Mean ± SD

67 ± 30

567 ± 350

 

Phragmites australis-S. japonica1

33

231

Yonggwang-gun Hasa-ri

Phragmites australis-S. japonica2

55

210

Gangwha-gun Dongkeom-ri

Phragmites australis-S. japonica3

17

118

Bosung-gun Jeonil-ri

Phragmites australis-S. japonica4

144

216

Suncheon-gun Nongjoo-ri

Phragmites australis-S. japonica5

36

180

Buan-gun Woopo-ri

 Mean ± SD

57 ± 51

191 ± 45

 

Results and discussion

S. glauca community mean length was 67 m and S. japonica community mean length was 567 m in zonal communities, and P. australis community mean length was mean 57 m and S. japonica community mean length was 191 m in zonal communities (Table 1). S. glauca community was found in Unpo-ri, Songhyun-ri, and Chulpo-ri. The community height was 70–80 cm. Its coverage in study areas was 70–80 %. The S. japonica community was found in both S. glauca-S. japonica and P. australis-S. japonica zonal communities. Its community height was 35–45 cm. Its coverage in study areas was 85–100 %. The area of salt marshes in Chulpo-ri and Sinduk-ri was 4–5 km2. P. australis communities were found in Woopo-ri, Nongjoo-ri, and Dongkeom-ri. Community height was 64–125 cm with coverage of 85–100 %.

Soil factors in S. glauca, S. japonica, and P. australis communities of Upnae-ri, Shinan-gun, are shown in Fig. 2. Electrical conductivity ± SE in S. glauca, S. japonica, and P. australis communities were 1.38 ± 0.0015, 1.28 ± 0.0045, and 1.01 ± 0.0055 mS/cm, respectively (n = 10). Total nitrogen ± SE in S. glauca, S. japonica, and P. australis communities were 0.21 ± 0.0026, 0.55 ± 0.0026, and 0.69 ± 0.0025 mg/g, respectively (n = 10). Higher total nitrogen level in S. japonica community than that in S. glauca community might be due to higher density in S. japonica community. Higher total nitrogen level in P. australis community might be due to higher biomass in P. australis community. Total phosphate ± SE in S. glauca, S. japonica, and P. australis communities were 0.05 ± 0.0008, 0.04 ± 0.0009, and 0.04 ± 0.0005 mg/g, respectively (n = 10). Such slight difference might be due to dilution of inland and coastal wastewater by tide. Sodium contents ± SE in S. glauca, S. japonica, and P. australis communities were 15.3 ± 0.0137, 12.3 ± 0.0052, and 5.8 ± 0.0104 mg/g, respectively (n = 10). Clay content ± SE in S. glauca, S. japonica, and P. australis communities were 26.0 ± 0.0344, 25.0 ± 0.0446, and 8.0 ± 0.0274 mg/g, respectively (n = 10). Regarding the electrical conductivity, sodium content, and clay contents in both S. glauca-S. japonica and P. australis-S. japonica communities and total phosphate in S. glauca-S. japonica community in Upnae-ri, Shinan-gun, there were significant differences among zonal communities at significance level of 0.05 for two-sided t test. However, there were little differences in total phosphate levels.

Conclusions

Halophyte distributions are related to multiple reactions of flooding and salinity concentrations (Benito et al. 1990; Caçador et al. 2007; Mert and Varder 1977). In South Korea, halophyte distributions have been determined for soil-water relation and soil texture (Ihm et al. 2007; Rogel et al. 2001) as well as flooding frequency (Lee 1990). A combination of multiple factors such as flooding, soil salinity, and competition have been suggested to play important roles in the formation of zonal plant communities in salt marshes (Pennings and Callaway 1992; Silvestri et al. 2005).
Fig. 2

Electrical conductivity, total nitrogen, total phosphate, sodium, and clay contents (mean ± SE) in S. glauca, S. japonica, and P. australis communities in salt marshes of Upnae-ri, Shinan-gun

Declarations

Acknowledgements

Emeritus Professor Byung-Sun Ihm deserves to be acknowledged for his ideas and comments on the manuscript at Mokpo National University, South Korea.

Funding

This research was funded with resources from Mokpo National University.

Availability of data and materials

Please contact author for data requests.

Authors’ contributions

The study was designed by JSL and JWK. SHL, HHM, and JYL collected and analyzed the data. SHL has helped in the statistical analysis of the data. JWK and SHL has drafted the manuscript. All authors approved the final manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Department of Biology, Kunsan National University
(2)
Marine & Environmental Research Laboratory
(3)
Division of Ecosystem Research, National Park Research Institute
(4)
Department of Biological Science, Mokpo National University
(5)
Division of Ecological Assessment, National Institute of Ecology

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Copyright

© The Author(s) 2016

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