Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 12–25 | Cite as

Does seed availability limit plant establishment during salt marsh restoration?

  • Hem Nalini Morzaria-Luna
  • Joy B. Zedler


Patterns of seed dispersal and seed bank accumulation need to be known to predict the species that will recruit into restoration sites versus those that must be introduced. We assessed the temporal and spatial patterns of seed availability and seed accumulation on the salt marsh plain of an 8-ha resforation site, based on seedlings that emerged from tidal material, wrack, rabbit pellets, and soil samples (in controlled experiments). We compared results from the first 3 yr of restoration (2000–2002) with results from a 5-yr-old restoration and an extant marsh, all within Tijuana Estuary, California. Seed dispersal was limited for most marsh plain species. Tidal dispersal occurred mainly in winter; seedling density and richness were highest with high spring tides and after fruiting of the dominant species,Sarcocornia pacifica (>90% of emergent seedlings).S. pacifica was also common in the seedlings that emerged from soil seed banks (up to 63%) and wrack (60%), while other species common in the vegetation were present at much lower densities. Seed bank accumulation in restored sites was low and few species were abundant. Seedlings that emerged from soil samples from the youngest restoration were mostly invasive exotics (64%), those of the 5-yr restoration were mostlyS. pacifica (63%), and those from the nearby extant marsh were mostlyTriglochin concinna (70%), despite more diverse vegetation. No salt marsh seedlings emerged from rabbit pellets; all were invasives (Mesembryanthemum crystallimum andCarpobrotus edulis). Emerging seedlings were much sparser in soil from the younger restoration than from the 5-yr restoration and the extant site (32.9±5.7<4642.2±1131.5 and 4689.3±359.3 seedlings m−2, respectively). Because dispersal is limited for most species, restoring diverse vegetation will require seeding or planting. Natural recruitment could be facilitated by completing restoration by early winter, when seeds of native plants have maximum tidal dispersal.


Salt Marsh Seed Bank Soil Seed Bank Seedling Density Tijuana Estuary 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadison

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