RESTORATION ECOLOGY

Planting to enhance positive interactions

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Science  11 Dec 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6266, pp. 1328
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6266.1328-a

Planting marsh grasses in a clumped, rather than dispersed, pattern can improve outcomes when restoring wetlands

PHOTO: © NICO VAN KAPPEL/BUITEN-BEELD/MINDEN PICTURES/CORBIS

Rising sea levels and human development threaten coastal ecosystems worldwide. Efforts to protect and restore these environments include a range of physical and biological measures, including reestablishing vegetation to stabilize the habitat and restore ecosystem function. Silliman et al. report the results of experiments in coastal wetlands in Florida and the Netherlands, showing that the simple pattern of planting (clumped versus dispersed) marsh grasses influences the success of restoration. Compared to a dispersed pattern of planting, planting marsh grasses in a clumped pattern enhanced their survival, biomass, and density. Clumped plants interacted positively; for instance, they reduced their anoxia stress, and neighboring roots shared oxygen more readily, effectively producing a more oxygen-rich microenvironment than isolated individual plants can achieve.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112, 14297 (2015).

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