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Plant Productivity Responses to Sea Level Rise

As the climate changes, how will coastal freshwater marshes respond to increased flood and salt stress?

Coastal marshes are experiencing increased flooding and salt stress with sea level rise and changes in precipitation. Increased stress impacts plant productivity and the resilience of coastal marshes to disturbance. While a substantial body of research exists on the impacts of sea level rise on saltwater marshes, little information exists about the response of coastal freshwater marshes to increased inundation and salt stress.

This research examined the response of three perennial freshwater plants - Phragmites australis (Roseau cane), Schoenoplectus californicus (California bulrush), and Typha latifolia (broadleaf cattail) - to different levels of salinity and flooding. We measured plant above- and below-ground productivity, plant root decomposition, and flooding adaptations over a single growing season.

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