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Authors Wilson, AM; Evans, T; Moore, W; Schutte, CA; Joye, SB; Hughes, AH; Anderson, JL
Author Full Name Wilson, Alicia M.; Evans, Tyler; Moore, Willard; Schutte, Charles A.; Joye, Samantha B.; Hughes, Andrea H.; Anderson, Joseph L.
Title Groundwater controls ecological zonation of salt marsh macrophytes
Source ECOLOGY
Language English
Document Type Article
Author Keywords ecohydrology; Salicornia virginica; salinity; salt marsh; Spartina alterniflora; zonation
Keywords Plus SOIL-WATER; SPARTINA-ALTERNIFLORA; SEASONAL PATTERNS; PLANT ZONATION; SALINITY; COMPETITION; HYDROLOGY; EXCHANGE; SOLUTE; FLUXES
Abstract Ecological zonation of salt marsh macrophytes is strongly influenced by hydrologic factors, but these factors are poorly understood. We examined groundwater flow patterns through surficial sediments in two salt marshes in the southeastern United States to quantify hydrologic differences between distinct ecological zones. Both sites included tall- or medium-form Spartina alterniflora near the creek bank; short-form Spartina alterniflora in the mid-marsh; salt flats and Salicornia virginica in the high marsh; and Juncus roemarianus in brackish-to-fresh areas adjacent to uplands. Both sites had relatively small, sandy uplands and similar stratigraphy consisting of marsh muds overlying a deeper sand layer. We found significant hydrologic differences between the four ecological zones. In the zones colonized by S. alterniflora, the vertical flow direction oscillated with semi-diurnal tides. Net flow (14-day average) through the tall S. alterniflora zones was downward, whereas the short S. alterniflora zones included significant periods of net upward groundwater flow. An examination of tidal efficiency at these sites suggested that the net flow patterns rather than tidal damping controlled the width of the tall S. alterniflora zone. In contrast to the S. alterniflora zones, hypersaline zones populated by S. virginica were characterized by sustained periods (days) of continuous upward flow of saline water during neap tides. The fresher zone populated by J. roemarianus showed physical flow patterns that were similar to the hypersaline zones, but the upwelling porewaters were fresh rather than saline. These flow patterns were influenced by the hydrogeologic framework of the marshes, particularly differences in hydraulic head between the upland water table and the tidal creeks. We observed increases in hydraulic head of 40 cm from the creek to the upland in the sand layers below both marshes, which is consistent with previous observations that sandy aquifers below fine-grained marsh soils act as conduits for flow from uplands to tidal creeks. This hydrologic framework supports relatively good drainage near the creek, increased waterlogging in the mid-marsh, and the development of hypersalinity adjacent to the freshwater upland. These hydrologic differences in turn support distinct ecological zones.
Author Address [Wilson, Alicia M.; Evans, Tyler; Moore, Willard; Hughes, Andrea H.; Anderson, Joseph L.] Univ S Carolina, Dept Earth & Ocean Sci, Columbia, SC 29205 USA; [Wilson, Alicia M.] Univ S Carolina, Environm & Sustainabil Program, Columbia, SC 29205 USA; [Schutte, Charles A.; Joye, Samantha B.] Univ Georgia, Dept Marine Sci, Athens, GA 30602 USA
Reprint Address Wilson, AM (corresponding author), Univ S Carolina, Dept Earth & Ocean Sci, Columbia, SC 29205 USA.
E-mail Address awilson@geol.sc.edu
ResearcherID Number Schutte, Charles A./Q-3553-2017; Moore, Willard S/B-6096-2016
ORCID Number Schutte, Charles A./0000-0002-3907-7828; Moore, Willard S/0000-0001-5930-5325; Wilson, Alicia/0000-0002-1113-6267
Funding Agency and Grant Number National Science FoundationNational Science Foundation (NSF) [EAR-0711301, EAR-0711215]; Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research Program [OCE 06-20959]; South Carolina Sea Grant [R/ER-30]; Directorate For GeosciencesNational Science Foundation (NSF)NSF - Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) [1237140, 1316250] Funding Source: National Science Foundation; Division Of Earth SciencesNational Science Foundation (NSF)NSF - Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) [1316250] Funding Source: National Science Foundation; Division Of Ocean SciencesNational Science Foundation (NSF)NSF - Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) [1237140] Funding Source: National Science Foundation
Funding Text This paper is dedicated to L. R.
Times Cited 38
Total Times Cited Count (WoS, BCI, and CSCD) 38
Publisher WILEY
Publisher City HOBOKEN
Publisher Address 111 RIVER ST, HOBOKEN 07030-5774, NJ USA
ISSN 0012-9658
29-Character Source Abbreviation ECOLOGY
ISO Source Abbreviation Ecology
Publication Date MAR
Year Published 2015
Volume 96
Issue 3
Beginning Page 840
Ending Page 849
Digital Object Identifier (DOI) 10.1890/13-2183.1
Page Count 10
Web of Science Category Ecology
Subject Category Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Document Delivery Number CD7MY
Unique Article Identifier WOS:000351275800023
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