Relation of Soil Water Movement and Sulfide Concentration to Spartina alterniflora Production in a Georgia Salt Marsh

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Science  01 Oct 1982:
Vol. 218, Issue 4567, pp. 61-63
DOI: 10.1126/science.218.4567.61


It is proposed that differences in plant height and productivity of the salt-marsh cordgrass Spartina alterniflora are the result of a dynamic interaction among tidal water movement, dissolved iron and sulfide concentrations in marsh soils, and bacterial sulfate reduction. Tidal water movement regulates the input of iron into marsh soils and the drainage of sulfide-containing interstitial water, and thereby controls the concentration of dissolved sulfide formed as a result of bacterial sulfate reduction. Near tidal creeks, where water movement and plant height and production are greatest, sulfide concentrations are lowest; in more elevated regions of marsh, where water movement andplant production are least, sulfide concentrations are highest. Plant height and productivity may be limited by the effects of sulfide on nutrient uptake.