- Open Access
Zonation and soil factors of salt marsh halophyte communities
Journal of Ecology and Environment volume 40, Article number: 4 (2016)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Benito, I, Agirre, A, & Onaindia, M (1990). Zonation of halophytic vegetation along a tide exposure gradient and associated processes. Anales de Biologia, 16, 163–175.
Bockelmann, AC, Bakker, JP, Neuhaus, R, & Lage, J (2002). The relation between vegetation zonation, elevation and inundation frequency in a Wadden Sea salt marsh. Aquatic Botany, 73, 211–221.
Caçador, I, Tibério, S, & Cabral, HN (2007). Species zonation in Corroios salt marsh in the Tagus estuary (Portugal) and its dynamics in the past fifty years. Hydrobiologia, 587, 205–211.
Emery, NC, Ewanchuk, PJ, & Bertness, MD (2001). Competition and salt-marsh plant zonation: stress tolerators may be dominant competitors. Ecology, 82, 2471–2485.
Ihm, B-S, Lee, J-S, Kim, J-W, & Kim, J-H (2007). Coastal plant and soil relationships in the southwestern coast of South Korea. J Plant Biol, 50, 331–335.
Lee, J-S (1990). On establishment of halophytes along tidal level gradient at salt marshes of Manhyong and Dongjin river estuaries. South Korea, Seoul National University.
Mert, HH, & Varder, Y (1977). Salinity, osmotic pressure, and transpiration relationships of Salicornia herbaceae in its natural habitats. Phyton, 18, 71–78.
Pennings, SC, & Callaway, RM (1992). Salt marsh plant zonation: the relative importance of competition and physical factors. Ecology, 73, 681–690.
Rogel, JÁ, Silla, RO, & Ariza, FA (2001). Edaphic characterization and soil ionic composition influencing plant zonation in a semiarid Mediterranean salt marsh. Geoderma, 99, 81–98.
Sánchez, JM, Izco, J, & Medrano, M. (1996). Relationships between vegetation zonation and altitude in a salt-marsh system in northwest Spain. Journal of Vegetation Science, 7, 695–702.
Silvestri, S, Defina, A, & Marani, M (2005). Tidal regime, salinity and salt marsh plant zonation. Estuar Coast Shelf S, 62, 119–130.
Emeritus Professor Byung-Sun Ihm deserves to be acknowledged for his ideas and comments on the manuscript at Mokpo National University, South Korea.
This research was funded with resources from Mokpo National University.
Availability of data and materials
Please contact author for data requests.
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.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Consent for publication
Ethics approval and consent to participate
About this article
Cite this article
Lee, JS., Kim, JW., Lee, S.H. et al. Zonation and soil factors of salt marsh halophyte communities. j ecology environ 40, 4 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41610-016-0010-3
- Salt marsh plant
- Soil factor
- Suaeda glauca
- S. japonica
- Phragmites australis