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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 388:293-297 (2009)  -  DOI:

Effects of shoot stiffness, shoot size and current velocity on scouring sediment from around seedlings and propagules

T. J. Bouma1,*, M. Friedrichs2, P. Klaassen1, B. K. van Wesenbeeck1,3, F. G. Brun1, S. Temmerman4, M. M. van Katwijk5, G. Graf2, P. M. J. Herman1

1Centre for Estuarine and Marine Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), PO Box 140, 4400 AC Yerseke, The Netherlands
2Institute for Biological Sciences-Marine Biology, University of Rostock, Albert-Einstein-Str. 3, 18051 Rostock, Germany
3Deltares, Marine and Coastal Systems, PO Box 177, 2600 MH Delft, The Netherlands
4Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Wilrijk, Belgium
5Department of Environmental Science, Radboud University Nijmegen, PO Box 9010, 6500 GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT: Successful management and restoration of coastal vegetation requires a quantitative process-based understanding of thresholds hampering (re-)establishment of pioneer vegetation. We expected scouring to be important in explaining the disappearance of seedlings and/or small propagules of intertidal plant species, and therefore quantified the dependence of scouring on plant traits (flexibility, size) and physical forcing by current velocity. Flume studies with unidirectional flow revealed that scouring around seedlings increased exponentially with current velocity and according to a power relationship with plant size. Basal stem diameter rather than shoot length controlled scouring volume. Flexible shoots caused far less scouring than stiff shoots, provided that the bending occurred near the sediment surface as was the case for Zostera, and not on top of a solid tussock base as we observed for Puccinellia. Therefore, shoot stiffness is likely to strongly affect the chances for initial establishment in hydrodynamically exposed areas. Plant traits such as shoot stiffness are subject to a trade-off between advantages and disadvantages, the outcome of which depends on the physical settings.

KEY WORDS: Seedling survival · Hydrodynamics · Current velocity · Spartina anglica · Salt marsh · Trade-offs · Seagrass · Zostera noltii

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Cite this article as: Bouma TJ, Friedrichs M, Klaassen P, van Wesenbeeck BK and others (2009) Effects of shoot stiffness, shoot size and current velocity on scouring sediment from around seedlings and propagules. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 388:293-297.

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