The Ammophila problem
The Ammophila problem
Even a cursory look on foredune plant communities shows vigorous dense stands of dune species in areas with moderate recurrent sand accretion levels specific for each plant species (Disraeli 1984; Maun and Baye 1989; Maun 1998). The phenomenon has been well documented in species of Ammophila arenaria (Carey and Oliver 1918; Tansley 1953), Corynephorus canescens (Marshall 1965), A. breviligulata (Eldred and Maun 1982) and Calamovilfa longifolia (Maun 1985). Burial has a positive influence on growth and flowering of plants and debilitated populations of foredune plant species can be rejuvenated by sand deposition (Maun 1998). Clear evidence of this phenomenon was presented by Maze and Whalley (1992a), who examined population dynamics of Spinifex sericeus in five zones receiving different amounts of sand deposition on a coastal dune system of Australia: the sea side of the first dune ridge, crest of first dune ridge, swale, Acacia thickets and stable hind dunes. In the very dynamic area on the sea side or toe of the first dune ridge (high beach) with regular burial or erosion of up to 1 m or more the plants produced very vigorous stolons with long internodes. On the crest of the dune ridge with sand deposition of about 17.5 cm per year even though plants had fewer stolons, they responded to burial by growing upwards with long internodes. In Acacia thickets in spite of very little sand deposition, plants were vigorous with little or no dead material, produced stolons and grew upwards with some long and some short internodes, probably because of greater nitrogen content in the soil. However, in the swale (slack) with little or no sand deposition, plants showed strong clumping tendency with very short internodes, a large amount of dead material on the surface and very low vigour. Unburied nodes usually died. Similarly, in the stable sand dunes with little or no sand deposition debilitated low-vigour clumps with very few stolons were abundant. Another example of this decline was presented by Martin (1959) on a shoreline along the Atlantic coast of North Carolina. He measured deposition and deflation of sand on two transects and showed that as one moved inland from the shoreline the total deposition of sand decreased.
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