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      Interactions between mangroves and exoticSpartinain an anthropogenically disturbed estuary in southern China

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      Ecology

      Wiley-Blackwell

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          Abstract

          Cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) was introduced to China in 1979 from the United States for reducing coastal erosion. It grows vigorously in China and has spread over much of the Chinese coast, from Leizhou Peninsula to Liaoning, a range of more than 19 degrees of latitude. On the southern coast of China, S. alterniflora has invaded mangrove-dominated habitats during the last two decades, but little is known about interactions between native mangroves and invasive S. alterniflora. We studied the distribution and competitive interactions between native mangroves and S. alterniflora in the Zhangjiang Estuary at four tidal sites along a salinity gradient: oligohaline upstream, mesohaline, polyhaline, and euhaline downstream. S. alterniflora occurred at all four sites, and several mangrove species occurred at all but the downstream euhaline site. S. alterniflora has invaded the estuary widely and has spread to the lower tidal margins of mangroves. It has not invaded mangrove areas with a closed canopy but has established in the mangrove zone where the canopy was opened by human disturbance. Ramets of S. alterniflora transplanted into the understory of mangrove stands with closed canopies died within 10 weeks, but 37.5% survived and grew well on open mud flats. S. alterniflora had virtually no competitive effect on mangrove seedlings planted at the upstream oligohaline site. However, S. alterniflora competitively reduced biomass of mangrove seedlings to 33% over a period of 14 weeks at the mesohaline and polyhaline sites where human disturbance has opened the mangrove canopy. In contrast, S. alterniflora marginally facilitated growth and survival of experimental seedlings at the downstream euhaline site. In China, mangroves occur along the coastline south of Whenzhou, but they have been severely disturbed and removed widely, mainly by mariculture activities. Natural vegetation patterns and our experimental results suggest that, without intervention, S. alterniflora could gradually replace these mangroves in mid-salinity regions of Chinese estuaries.

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          Positive interactions among alpine plants increase with stress.

          Plants can have positive effects on each other. For example, the accumulation of nutrients, provision of shade, amelioration of disturbance, or protection from herbivores by some species can enhance the performance of neighbouring species. Thus the notion that the distributions and abundances of plant species are independent of other species may be inadequate as a theoretical underpinning for understanding species coexistence and diversity. But there have been no large-scale experiments designed to examine the generality of positive interactions in plant communities and their importance relative to competition. Here we show that the biomass, growth and reproduction of alpine plant species are higher when other plants are nearby. In an experiment conducted in subalpine and alpine plant communities with 115 species in 11 different mountain ranges, we find that competition generally, but not exclusively, dominates interactions at lower elevations where conditions are less physically stressful. In contrast, at high elevations where abiotic stress is high the interactions among plants are predominantly positive. Furthermore, across all high and low sites positive interactions are more important at sites with low temperatures in the early summer, but competition prevails at warmer sites.
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            MEASURING PLANT INTERACTIONS: A NEW COMPARATIVE INDEX

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              Environmental drivers in mangrove establishment and early development: A review

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Ecology
                Ecology
                Wiley-Blackwell
                0012-9658
                March 2012
                March 2012
                : 93
                : 3
                : 588-597
                Article
                10.1890/11-1302.1
                22624213
                © 2012

                http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/tdm_license_1.1

                Product
                Self URI (article page): http://doi.wiley.com/10.1890/11-1302.1

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