Ecophysiological strategies of coastal halophytes from foredunes and salt marshes are discussed. A comparison is made of the factors that limit growth in salt marshes and sand dunes. In salt marshes, zonation and succession are primarily governed by variation in soil salinity, which strongly depends on inundation with seawater. Results are described of experiments which aim at separating salinity and inundation effects on growth, osmotic and mineral relations in a comparison of salt-marsh halophytes. The growth response of plants cannot simply be correlated (and causally explained) with the concentration of Na, Cl, and K in the tissues. Also, the compatible osmotic solutes proline and methylated quaternary ammonium compounds may accumulate both in species with a positive response to increased salinity and in species with a growth reduction under seawater inundation. More likely inadequate adaptation of the plants water potential with these components is partly the cause of retarded growth. Disfunctioning of the plant in this respect may be at three levels: (a) total water potential of the plant, (b) (loss) of turgor pressure potential; (c) regulation at the cellular level. The ecological importance of some factors in seawater other than sodium chloride is considered. In coastal sand dunes airborne rather than soil salinity limits plant growth, together with the effects of abrasion, sand accretion, drought and the poor nutrient status of the dune sand. Adaptations of sand-dune species to these factors may consist of: large seeds with storage tissue germinating in the dark and seedling growth enough to emerge through the accreted sand. Aerial parts must be resistant to mechanical damage (high wind speed and abrasion), possibly by a sclerophyllous and tough structure. Efficient nutrient uptake, translocation and retranslocation seem to help survive sand-dune species in a nutrient-poor rooting medium. Â© 1985 Dr W. Junk Publishers.
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