Presentation Title

Migration and Ecophysical Traits of Coastal Plants: Implications of Adaptability to Rising Sea Levels

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Location

HUB 302-#103

Type of Presentation

Poster

Abstract

As a result of rising sea levels, some coastal plant species may require assistance to migrate to more suitable inland locations. Disturbances that reduce competition with established, upslope vegetation may enhance survival and growth of relocated species. In May of 2015 two pine island-marsh complexes, spanning a gradient from salt marsh to pine woodland, were burned, and two complexes were left unburned within at Grand Bay Natural Estuarine Research Reserve in coastal Mississippi. Sods excavated in the dominant vegetation types were reciprocally transplanted into four zones, including their own “home” zone. Juncus roemerianus, the brackish marsh dominant, successfully established and increased its cover in downslope, “home”, and upslope positions. This species also had higher cover in burned plots compared to control plots. The salt marsh dominant Spartina alterniflora established in all upslope positions but persisted only at “home” and brackish marsh zones. In this study, physiological traits will be investigated to explain why some species can expand following disturbance while other species are incapable. We compared water potential and light availability of these two species in control and burn plots along the salinity gradient. We hypothesize that pre-dawn and midday water potentials of J. roemerianus will not differ across the gradient, in all plots. We expect that S. alterniflora will have lower water potentials at the edges of its upslope distribution relative to its “home” and brackish water distribution. These physiological responses may help us predict future responses of dominant coastal species to disturbances and chronic sea level rise.

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Migration and Ecophysical Traits of Coastal Plants: Implications of Adaptability to Rising Sea Levels

HUB 302-#103

As a result of rising sea levels, some coastal plant species may require assistance to migrate to more suitable inland locations. Disturbances that reduce competition with established, upslope vegetation may enhance survival and growth of relocated species. In May of 2015 two pine island-marsh complexes, spanning a gradient from salt marsh to pine woodland, were burned, and two complexes were left unburned within at Grand Bay Natural Estuarine Research Reserve in coastal Mississippi. Sods excavated in the dominant vegetation types were reciprocally transplanted into four zones, including their own “home” zone. Juncus roemerianus, the brackish marsh dominant, successfully established and increased its cover in downslope, “home”, and upslope positions. This species also had higher cover in burned plots compared to control plots. The salt marsh dominant Spartina alterniflora established in all upslope positions but persisted only at “home” and brackish marsh zones. In this study, physiological traits will be investigated to explain why some species can expand following disturbance while other species are incapable. We compared water potential and light availability of these two species in control and burn plots along the salinity gradient. We hypothesize that pre-dawn and midday water potentials of J. roemerianus will not differ across the gradient, in all plots. We expect that S. alterniflora will have lower water potentials at the edges of its upslope distribution relative to its “home” and brackish water distribution. These physiological responses may help us predict future responses of dominant coastal species to disturbances and chronic sea level rise.