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Distribution of vascular plants and macroalgae along salinity and elevation gradients in Oregon tidal marshes
Janousek, C. N., C. FOLGER, AND H. LEE, II. Distribution of vascular plants and macroalgae along salinity and elevation gradients in Oregon tidal marshes. Presented at Pacific Estuarine Research Society Meeting, Astoria, OR, March 03 - 05, 2011.
Sea level rise due to global climate change may affect the spatial distribution of plants and macroalgae within tidal estuaries.
Sea level rise due to global climate change may affect the spatial distribution of plants and macroalgae within tidal estuaries. We present preliminary results from on-going research in Oregon to determine how these potential abiotic drives correlate with the presence or absence, abundance, and diversity of marsh species. Detailed vegetation data were collected from low, high and palustrine tidal marshes in Yaquina Bay, Alsea bay, Netarts bay and Coquille Estuary. Estuary-wide and plot-level data suggest that the flora of these tidal marshes is highly diverse, with single estuaries hosting dozens of taxa, including Deschampsia caespitosa, Juncus arcticus var. balticus, and Sarcocornia pacifica have a high frequency of occurrence (>25% of plots). Many other species are less common, or are only minor components of the flora, but add to overall diversity. The occurrence of many of the more common taxa appears to be strongly linked to intertidal elevation. Additionally, overall plant diversity also increases from lower to higher intertidal elevations. Salinity data will be coupled with elevation distributions to determine envelopes of environmental tolerance and help project the future distribution of suitable habitat for common taxa. Future sea level rise, absent sufficient net vertical accretion of sediment or horizontal migration of marsh habitat, will likely shift plant distributions up the intertidal and/or away from the coast and may lower diversity within some marshes.