Limited seed retention during winter inhibits vegetation establishment in spring, affecting lateral marsh expansion capacity

Marin Regteren*, Irene Colosimo, Pepijn Vries, Marinka Elisabeth Barbara Puijenbroek, Victor Sebastiaan Freij, Martin Josephus Baptist, Kelly Elschot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Coastal systems worldwide deliver vital ecosystem services, such as biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and coastal protection. Effectivity of these ecosystem services increases when vegetation is present. Understanding the mechanisms behind vegetation establishment in bio‐geomorphic systems is necessary to understand their ability to recover after erosive events and potential adaptations to climate change. In this study, we examined how seed availability affects vegetation establishment in the salt marsh–intertidal flat transition zone: the area with capacity for lateral marsh expansion. This requires vegetation establishment; therefore, seed availability is essential. In a 6‐month field experiment, we simulated a before and after winter seed dispersal at two locations, the salt‐marsh vegetation edge and the intertidal flat, and studied seed retention, the seed bank, and the seed viability of three pioneer marsh species: Salicornia procumbens, Aster tripolium, and Spartina anglica. During winter storm conditions, all supplied seeds eroded away with the sediment surface layer. After winter, supplied seeds from all three species were retained, mostly at the surface while 9% was bioturbated downwards. In the natural seed bank, A. tripolium and S. anglica were practically absent while S. procumbens occurred more frequently. The viability of S. procumbens seeds was highest at the surface, between 80% and 90%. The viability quickly decreased with depth, although viable S. procumbens seeds occurred up to 15 cm depth. Only when seeds were supplied after winter, many S. procumbens and some S. anglica individuals did establish successfully in the transition zone. Viable seed availability formed a vegetation establishment threshold, even with a local seed source. Our results suggest that, although boundary conditions such as elevation, inundation, and weather conditions were appropriate for vegetation establishment in spring, the soil surface in winter can be so dynamic that it limits lateral marsh expansion. These insights can be used for designing effective nature‐based coastal protection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13294-13308
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume9
Issue number23
Early online date4 Nov 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

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marshes
marsh
seed
vegetation
winter
seeds
Spartina anglica
Tripolium pannonicum
viability
coastal protection
seed bank
buried seeds
ecosystem service
ecosystem services
transition zone
Salicornia
seed dispersal
salt marshes
carbon sequestration
saltmarsh

Cite this

@article{c4309c74845c4dfabe298614d29ac33a,
title = "Limited seed retention during winter inhibits vegetation establishment in spring, affecting lateral marsh expansion capacity",
abstract = "Coastal systems worldwide deliver vital ecosystem services, such as biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and coastal protection. Effectivity of these ecosystem services increases when vegetation is present. Understanding the mechanisms behind vegetation establishment in bio‐geomorphic systems is necessary to understand their ability to recover after erosive events and potential adaptations to climate change. In this study, we examined how seed availability affects vegetation establishment in the salt marsh–intertidal flat transition zone: the area with capacity for lateral marsh expansion. This requires vegetation establishment; therefore, seed availability is essential. In a 6‐month field experiment, we simulated a before and after winter seed dispersal at two locations, the salt‐marsh vegetation edge and the intertidal flat, and studied seed retention, the seed bank, and the seed viability of three pioneer marsh species: Salicornia procumbens, Aster tripolium, and Spartina anglica. During winter storm conditions, all supplied seeds eroded away with the sediment surface layer. After winter, supplied seeds from all three species were retained, mostly at the surface while 9{\%} was bioturbated downwards. In the natural seed bank, A. tripolium and S. anglica were practically absent while S. procumbens occurred more frequently. The viability of S. procumbens seeds was highest at the surface, between 80{\%} and 90{\%}. The viability quickly decreased with depth, although viable S. procumbens seeds occurred up to 15 cm depth. Only when seeds were supplied after winter, many S. procumbens and some S. anglica individuals did establish successfully in the transition zone. Viable seed availability formed a vegetation establishment threshold, even with a local seed source. Our results suggest that, although boundary conditions such as elevation, inundation, and weather conditions were appropriate for vegetation establishment in spring, the soil surface in winter can be so dynamic that it limits lateral marsh expansion. These insights can be used for designing effective nature‐based coastal protection.",
author = "Marin Regteren and Irene Colosimo and Pepijn Vries and Puijenbroek, {Marinka Elisabeth Barbara} and Freij, {Victor Sebastiaan} and Baptist, {Martin Josephus} and Kelly Elschot",
year = "2019",
month = "12",
doi = "10.1002/ece3.5781",
language = "English",
volume = "9",
pages = "13294--13308",
journal = "Ecology and Evolution",
issn = "2045-7758",
publisher = "Wiley",
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}

Limited seed retention during winter inhibits vegetation establishment in spring, affecting lateral marsh expansion capacity. / Regteren, Marin; Colosimo, Irene; Vries, Pepijn; Puijenbroek, Marinka Elisabeth Barbara; Freij, Victor Sebastiaan; Baptist, Martin Josephus; Elschot, Kelly.

In: Ecology and Evolution, Vol. 9, No. 23, 12.2019, p. 13294-13308.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Limited seed retention during winter inhibits vegetation establishment in spring, affecting lateral marsh expansion capacity

AU - Regteren, Marin

AU - Colosimo, Irene

AU - Vries, Pepijn

AU - Puijenbroek, Marinka Elisabeth Barbara

AU - Freij, Victor Sebastiaan

AU - Baptist, Martin Josephus

AU - Elschot, Kelly

PY - 2019/12

Y1 - 2019/12

N2 - Coastal systems worldwide deliver vital ecosystem services, such as biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and coastal protection. Effectivity of these ecosystem services increases when vegetation is present. Understanding the mechanisms behind vegetation establishment in bio‐geomorphic systems is necessary to understand their ability to recover after erosive events and potential adaptations to climate change. In this study, we examined how seed availability affects vegetation establishment in the salt marsh–intertidal flat transition zone: the area with capacity for lateral marsh expansion. This requires vegetation establishment; therefore, seed availability is essential. In a 6‐month field experiment, we simulated a before and after winter seed dispersal at two locations, the salt‐marsh vegetation edge and the intertidal flat, and studied seed retention, the seed bank, and the seed viability of three pioneer marsh species: Salicornia procumbens, Aster tripolium, and Spartina anglica. During winter storm conditions, all supplied seeds eroded away with the sediment surface layer. After winter, supplied seeds from all three species were retained, mostly at the surface while 9% was bioturbated downwards. In the natural seed bank, A. tripolium and S. anglica were practically absent while S. procumbens occurred more frequently. The viability of S. procumbens seeds was highest at the surface, between 80% and 90%. The viability quickly decreased with depth, although viable S. procumbens seeds occurred up to 15 cm depth. Only when seeds were supplied after winter, many S. procumbens and some S. anglica individuals did establish successfully in the transition zone. Viable seed availability formed a vegetation establishment threshold, even with a local seed source. Our results suggest that, although boundary conditions such as elevation, inundation, and weather conditions were appropriate for vegetation establishment in spring, the soil surface in winter can be so dynamic that it limits lateral marsh expansion. These insights can be used for designing effective nature‐based coastal protection.

AB - Coastal systems worldwide deliver vital ecosystem services, such as biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and coastal protection. Effectivity of these ecosystem services increases when vegetation is present. Understanding the mechanisms behind vegetation establishment in bio‐geomorphic systems is necessary to understand their ability to recover after erosive events and potential adaptations to climate change. In this study, we examined how seed availability affects vegetation establishment in the salt marsh–intertidal flat transition zone: the area with capacity for lateral marsh expansion. This requires vegetation establishment; therefore, seed availability is essential. In a 6‐month field experiment, we simulated a before and after winter seed dispersal at two locations, the salt‐marsh vegetation edge and the intertidal flat, and studied seed retention, the seed bank, and the seed viability of three pioneer marsh species: Salicornia procumbens, Aster tripolium, and Spartina anglica. During winter storm conditions, all supplied seeds eroded away with the sediment surface layer. After winter, supplied seeds from all three species were retained, mostly at the surface while 9% was bioturbated downwards. In the natural seed bank, A. tripolium and S. anglica were practically absent while S. procumbens occurred more frequently. The viability of S. procumbens seeds was highest at the surface, between 80% and 90%. The viability quickly decreased with depth, although viable S. procumbens seeds occurred up to 15 cm depth. Only when seeds were supplied after winter, many S. procumbens and some S. anglica individuals did establish successfully in the transition zone. Viable seed availability formed a vegetation establishment threshold, even with a local seed source. Our results suggest that, although boundary conditions such as elevation, inundation, and weather conditions were appropriate for vegetation establishment in spring, the soil surface in winter can be so dynamic that it limits lateral marsh expansion. These insights can be used for designing effective nature‐based coastal protection.

U2 - 10.1002/ece3.5781

DO - 10.1002/ece3.5781

M3 - Article

VL - 9

SP - 13294

EP - 13308

JO - Ecology and Evolution

JF - Ecology and Evolution

SN - 2045-7758

IS - 23

ER -