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Authors Farina, JM; Silliman, BR; Bertness, MD
Author Full Name Farina, Jose M.; Silliman, Brian R.; Bertness, Mark D.
Title Can conservation biologists rely on established community structure rules to manage novel systems? ... Not in salt marshes
Source ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS
Language English
Document Type Article
Author Keywords Chile; competition; physical stress; plant zonation; salt marshes; Sarcocornia fruticosa; Schoenoplectus californicus; Selliera radicans; Spartina densiflora
Keywords Plus PLANT ZONATION; SPARTINA-ALTERNIFLORA; RELATIVE IMPORTANCE; EL-NINO; COMPETITION; DOMINANT; STRESS; ABUNDANCE; PATTERNS; RECOVERY
Abstract We experimentally examined plant zonation in a previously unstudied Chilean salt marsh system to test the generality of mechanisms generating zonation of plants across intertidal stress gradients. Vertical zonation in this system is striking. The low-lying clonal succulent, Sarcocornia fruticosa, dominates the daily flooded low marsh, while intermediate elevations are dominated by the much taller Spartina densiflora. Irregularly flooded higher elevations are dominated by Schoenoplectus californicus, with the small forb, Selliera radicans, found associated with Schoenoplectus at its base. Transplant studies of all four species into each zone both with and without competition revealed the mechanisms driving these striking patterns in plant segregation. In the regularly flooded low marsh, Sarcocornia and Spartina grow in the zone that they normally dominate and are displaced when reciprocally transplanted between zones with neighbors, but without neighbors they grow well in each other's zone. Thus, interspecific competition alone generates low marsh zonation as in some mediterranean marshes, but differently than most of the Californian marshes where physical stress is the dominant factor. In contrast, mechanisms generating high marsh patterns are similar to New England marshes. Schoenoplectus dies when transplanted to lower elevations with or without neighbors and thus is limited from the low marsh by physical stress, while Selliera grows best associated with Schoenoplectus, which shades and ameliorates potentially limiting desiccation stress. These results reveal that mechanisms driving community organization across environmental stress gradients, while generally similar among systems, cannot be directly extrapolated to unstudied systems. This finding has important implications for ecosystem conservation because it suggests that the mechanistic understanding of pattern generation necessary to manage and restore specific communities in novel habitats cannot rely exclusively on results from similar systems, and it identifies a critical role for experimental ecology in the management and conservation of natural systems and the services they provide.
Author Address [Farina, Jose M.] Pontificia Univ Catolica Chile, Ctr Adv Studies Ecol & Biodivers, Santiago, Chile; [Silliman, Brian R.] Univ Florida, Dept Zool, Gainesville, FL 32611 USA; [Farina, Jose M.; Bertness, Mark D.] Brown Univ, Dept Ecol & Evolutionary Biol, Providence, RI 02912 USA
Reprint Address Farina, JM (corresponding author), Pontificia Univ Catolica Chile, Ctr Adv Studies Ecol & Biodivers, Alameda 340, Santiago, Chile.
E-mail Address jfarina@bio.puc.cl
ORCID Number Silliman, Brian/0000-0001-6360-650X
Funding Agency and Grant Number Andrew Mellon Foundation; CASEB
Funding Text This study was funded by an Andrew Mellon Foundation grant to M. D. Bertness and CASEB programa 12 to J. M. Farina. We thank Maria Victoria Reyna, Fernanda Salinas, Camila Tejo, Sebastian Armesto, Claudia Tramolao, and Sandra Perez for their help in the field and anonymous reviewers for help with the manuscript. We also thank the Corporacion Nacional Forestal (CONAF) for their cooperation and the help of the guards to work in a protected area.
Times Cited 29
Total Times Cited Count (WoS, BCI, and CSCD) 31
Publisher ECOLOGICAL SOC AMER
Publisher City WASHINGTON
Publisher Address 1990 M STREET NW, STE 700, WASHINGTON, DC 20036 USA
ISSN 1051-0761
29-Character Source Abbreviation ECOL APPL
ISO Source Abbreviation Ecol. Appl.
Publication Date MAR
Year Published 2009
Volume 19
Issue 2
Beginning Page 413
Ending Page 422
Digital Object Identifier (DOI) 10.1890/07-1000.1
Page Count 10
Web of Science Category Ecology; Environmental Sciences
Subject Category Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Document Delivery Number 412IV
Unique Article Identifier WOS:000263719400011
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