Population biology of the annual grassTriplasis purpurea in relation to distance from shore on Staten Island, New York

  • Cheplick Gregory P. 
  • Demetri Harry 


Four populations of the native annual grassTriplasis purpurea were surveyed on coastal beaches along the south shore of Staten Island, NY, to determine the potential of this species to colonize shoreline habitats mostly devoid of other vegetation. If the species can establish and maintain dense populations, it may have conservation value for urban beaches disturbed by human activities. For two populations, survivorship, growth, and reproduction were monitored at different distances from shore to determine the ability of this species to maintain viable populations. At three sites,T. purpurea occurred in >75% of all quadrats and the highest density was 1195 plants/m2 at 74 m from shore in one recently disturbed site. Density generally increased with increasing distances from shore at low tide (from ca. 40 – 90 m). Plants showed the greatest growth and reproduction at close distances to shore (30 – 40 m); part of this effect was due to density in one population, but when density effects were removed statistically, there still remained a decline in growth and reproduction with increasing distance from shore. Improved vigor nearest to shore may be due to continual sand deposition. Survivorship showed a Type I pattern, with low mortality throughout the growing season. By colonizing newly-deposited and continually shifting sands,T. purpurea can contribute to the earliest stages of ecological succession along disturbed beaches in eastern North America and may be valuable to the development and management of urban coastal plant communities.


Coastal beach Colonization Psammophyte Seed production Survivorship 


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Copyright information

© EUCC 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, College of Staten IslandCity University of New YorkStaten IslandUSA

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