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Authors DeFalco, LA; Scoles-Sciulla, SJ; Beamguard, ER
Author Full Name DeFalco, Lesley A.; Scoles-Sciulla, Sara J.; Beamguard, Emily R.
Title The role of salinity tolerance and competition in the distribution of an endangered desert salt marsh endemic
Source PLANT ECOLOGY
Language English
Document Type Article
Author Keywords Amargosa niterwort; Distichlis spicata var. stricta; Nitrophila mohavensis; Mojave desert; Saltgrass
Keywords Plus HELIANTHUS-PARADOXUS; DISTICHLIS-SPICATA; GROUNDWATER WITHDRAWAL; SOIL-SALINITY; CLONAL PLANT; GROWTH; ASTERACEAE; ALLOCATION; PHOTOSYNTHESIS; REPRODUCTION
Abstract Rare plants are often associated with distinctive soil types, and understanding why endemic species occur in unique environments is fundamental for their management. At Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in southern Nevada, USA, we evaluated whether the limited distribution of endangered Amargosa niterwort (Nitrophila mohavensis) is explained by this species' tolerance of saline soils on salt-encrusted mud flats compared with the broadly distributed desert saltgrass (Distichlis spicata var. stricta). We simultaneously explored whether niterwort distribution is restricted from expanding due to interspecific competition with saltgrass. Surface soils collected throughout niterwort's range were unexpectedly less saline with lower extractable Na, seasonal electroconductivity, and Na absorption ratio, and higher soil moisture than in adjacent saltgrass or mixed shrub habitats. Comparison of niterwort and saltgrass growth along an experimental salinity gradient in a greenhouse demonstrated lower growth of niterwort at all but the highest NaCl concentrations. Although growth of niterwort ramets was similar when transplanted into both habitats at the refuge below Crystal Reservoir, niterwort reproductive effort was considerably higher in saltgrass compared to its own habitat, implying reallocation of resources to sexual reproduction to maximize fitness when the probability of ramet mortality increases with greater salinity stress. Saltgrass was not a demonstrated direct competitor of niterwort; however, this species is known to increase soil salinity by exuding salt ions and through litterfall. Niterwort conservation will benefit from protecting hydrological processes that reduce salinity stress and preventing saltgrass colonization into niterwort habitat.
Author Address [DeFalco, Lesley A.; Scoles-Sciulla, Sara J.; Beamguard, Emily R.] Western Ecol Res Ctr, US Geol Survey, 160 N Stephanie St, Henderson, NV 89074 USA
Reprint Address DeFalco, LA (reprint author), Western Ecol Res Ctr, US Geol Survey, 160 N Stephanie St, Henderson, NV 89074 USA.
E-mail Address ldefalco@usgs.gov
Publisher SPRINGER
Publisher City DORDRECHT
Publisher Address VAN GODEWIJCKSTRAAT 30, 3311 GZ DORDRECHT, NETHERLANDS
ISSN 1385-0237
29-Character Source Abbreviation PLANT ECOL
ISO Source Abbreviation Plant Ecol.
Publication Date APR
Year Published 2017
Volume 218
Issue 4
Beginning Page 475
Ending Page 486
Digital Object Identifier (DOI) 10.1007/s11258-017-0704-3
Page Count 12
Web of Science Category Plant Sciences; Ecology; Forestry
Subject Category Plant Sciences; Environmental Sciences & Ecology; Forestry
Document Delivery Number EQ6AM
Unique Article Identifier WOS:000398164200009
Plants associated with this reference

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