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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 494:135-148 (2013)  -  DOI:

Dissimilarity in plant species diversity between salt marsh and neighboring environments decreases as environmental harshness increases

Alejandro D. Canepuccia1,2,*, Claudio F. Pérez2,3, Juan L. Farina4, Daniela Alemany1,2, Oscar O. Iribarne1,2

1Laboratorio de Ecología, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (IIMyC), Universidad Nacional de Mar Del Plata (UNMDP), CC 573 Correo Central, B7600WAG, Mar del Plata, Argentina
2Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Av. Rivadavia 1917, C1033AAJ, Buenos Aires, Argentina
3Departamento de Ciencias de la Atmosfera y los Océanos (FCEyN), Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires, Int. Güiraldes 2160, Pab. 2, C1428EGA, Buenos Aires, Argentina
4Museo de Ciencias Naturales Lorenzo Scaglia, Área Entomología, Mar del Plata, Av. Libertad 3099, CP 7600, Buenos Aires, Argentina

ABSTRACT: How species similarity changes between habitats along environmental gradients is still a central challenge in ecological studies. We assessed whether marsh plant characteristics are associated with geographic changes in environmental conditions and whether there are environmental factors associated with marsh-inland dissimilarity in species composition. Field samples of vegetation were collected at 6 sites along the SW Atlantic to determine plant characteristics (cover, tallness, richness and α-diversity), and marsh–inland dissimilarity (β-diversity) in species composition was calculated. PERMANOVA analysis showed that plant assemblage changes among sites. Forward stepwise multiple regression analysis showed that in lower marsh, plant cover increased in association with tidal range and decreased in association with salinity. In the high marsh, plant cover decreased in association with tidal range, salinity and with minimum temperatures. Plant richness increased in association with tidal range and with marsh area, while α-diversity decreased in association with precipitation and increased with salinity. Beta-diversity, estimated by SIMPER analysis, increased in association with precipitation and decreased with salinity and daily thermal amplitude. We present evidence that there is an increase in α-diversity but a decrease in β-diversity with environmental severity among co-specific marshes distributed along the SW Atlantic coast. Thus, communities developing in more benign conditions, regardless of their low local diversity, may increase biodiversity at a landscape scale by decreasing their similarities.

KEY WORDS: α- and β-diversity · Climate variables · Latitudinal gradient · Physical factors · Spartina · Tidal salt-marshes

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Cite this article as: Canepuccia AD, Pérez CF, Farina JL, Alemany D, Iribarne OO (2013) Dissimilarity in plant species diversity between salt marsh and neighboring environments decreases as environmental harshness increases. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 494:135-148.

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