Comparison of biomass production and decomposition between Phragmites australis (common reed) and Spartina patens (salt hay grass) in brackish tidal marshes of New Jersey, USA
The recent expansion of Phragmites australis (common reed) from the marsh-upland interface into high marsh zones provides an opportunity to assess the impact of individual plant species on biomass production and decomposition in salt marshes. Seasonal harvests of aboveground and belowground biomass demonstrate that annual production of P. australis is approximately three times greater for aboveground biomass, two times greater for belowground biomass, and 30% lower in root: shoot ratio than neighboring populations of S. patens. Whole-plant litter (stems and leaves) also decomposes at a much slower annual rate for P. australis (k=0.25) than S. patents litter (k=0.57). By crossing litter type with site of litter decomposition, I found these plant species to influence decay rates through litter type and not through their effects on marsh surface conditions (e.g., temperature, sedimentation rates). Based on these calculations, annual rates of carbon accumulation in the peat of high marshes are likely to increase 5-fold once P. australis becomes established due to its greater rates of biomass production and residence time in infrequently flooded brackish marshes.
Key Wordsmacrophyte turnover litter carbon storage
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Abacus Concepts. 1996. Statview 4.1. Abacus Concepts, Inc. Berkeley, CA, USA.Google Scholar
- Chambers, R. M. 1997. Porewater chemistry associated with Phragmites and Spartina in a Connecticut tidal marsh. Wetlands 17: 360–367.Google Scholar
- Ferren, W. R., Jr., R. E. Good, R. Walker, and J. Arsenault. 1981. Vegetation and flora of Hog Island, a brackish wetland in the Mullica River, New Jersey. Bartonia 48:1–10.Google Scholar
- Gallagher, J. L. 1978. Decomposition processes: summary and recommendations. p. 145–151. In R. E. Good, D. G. Whigham, and R. L. Simpson (eds.) Freshwater Wetlands: Ecological Processes and Management Potentials. Academic Press, New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
- Howes, B. L., J. W. H. Dacey, and D. D. Goehringer. 1986. Factors controlling the growth form of Spartina alterniflora: feedbacks between aboveground production, sediment oxidation, nitrogen and salinity. Journal of Ecology 74:882–898.Google Scholar
- Howes, B. L., R. W. Howarth, J. M. Teal, and I. Valiela. 1981. Oxidation-reduction potentials in a saltmarsh: Spatial patterns and interactions with primary production. Limnology and Oceanography 26:350–360.Google Scholar
- Valiela, I., B. Howes, R. Howarth, A. Giblin, K. Foreman, J. M. Teal, and J. E. Hobbie. 1980. Regulation of primary production and decomposition in a salt marsh ecosystem. p. 151–168. In Wetlands: Ecology and Management. Proceedings of the First International Wetlands Conference, New Delhi, India.Google Scholar
- Wainright, S. C., M. P. Weinstein, K. W. Able, and C. A. Currin 2000. Quantitative importance benthic microalgae, phytoplankton, and the detritus of smooth cordgrass (Spartina) and the common reed (Phragmites) to brackish marsh food webs. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 200:77–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Windham, L. 1999. Effects of an invasive reedgrass, Phragmites australis, on nitrogen cycling in brackish tidal marshes of New York and New Jersey. Ph.D. Thesis. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.Google Scholar