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Understanding the potential effects of water regime and salinity on recruitment of Melaleuca ericifolia

Salter, J and Morris, K and Read, J and Boon, Paul I (2010) Understanding the potential effects of water regime and salinity on recruitment of Melaleuca ericifolia. Aquatic Botany, 92 (3). pp. 200-206. ISSN 0304-3770

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Abstract

Although many emergent wetland plants may readily tolerate rapid changes in flooding and drying under freshwater conditions, their tolerance to dynamic water regimes may be compromised by salinity. Melaleuca-dominated woodlands occur naturally in Australia, south-east Asia and New Caledonia. Coastal wetlands dominated by Swamp paperbark (Melaleuca ericifolia) (Myrtaceae), native to south-east Australia, are commonly degraded as a consequence of altered water regime and salinity. This study simulates the release of M. ericifolia seeds from the aerial canopy under a range of water regime and salinity scenarios to determine conditions limiting sexual recruitment. Plant growth and survival were examined following seed release under two static water regimes (moist and flooded sediment) and two dynamic water regimes (simulated drawdown—“flooded-moist” and simulated re-flooding—“moist-flooded”). All water regimes, excluding the continuously flooded regime, were examined at three salinities: 0.1 dS m−1 (fresh), 8 dS m−1 and 16 dS m−1, over a 50-day period commencing 44 days after the seeds were sown. The flooded treatment was examined at 0.1 dS m−1 only, to confirm that flooding prohibits establishment of M. ericifolia. Seed and seedlings were positively buoyant and establishment was limited to moist soil. Flotation of seedlings in the flooded-moist treatment, however, did not inhibit subsequent establishment upon moist soil, even at the highest salinity of 16 dS m−1. Growth, but not survival, was reduced by salinities of 8 dS m−1 and 16 dS m−1 in the moist treatment. Flotation of seedlings in saline water in the flooded-moist treatment did not reduce growth or survival compared with fresh water. Survival of seedlings in the moist-flooded treatment was lower in the freshwater and 16 dS m−1 treatment compared with the moist treatment, but not at 8 dS m−1. These findings suggest that water regime influences establishment of young M. ericifolia plants more strongly than does salinity, at least up to 1/3 seawater and in the short term (<2 months). Seedlings are likely to establish during a drawdown where the soil is exposed at salinities of ≤16 dS m−1. In contrast, premature re-flooding of seedlings, even with fresh water, will compromise survival.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: ResPubID20041, Melaleuca ericifolia, water regime, salinity, establishment, post-germination
Subjects: Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Institute for Sustainability and Innovation (ISI)
Depositing User: VUIR
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2010 05:31
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2012 23:28
URI: http://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/15860
DOI: 10.1016/j.aquabot.2009.11.008
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Citations in Scopus: 6 - View on Scopus

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