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Salt marshes along the coast of the Netherlands


, : Salt marshes along the coast of the Netherlands. Hydrobiologia 265(1-3): 73-95

The area of salt marshes does no longer increase. The recent erosion coincides with a rise in MHT-level in the last 25 years. Despite the decrease in area, sedimentation continues, especially in the lower salt marsh, which acts as a sink of nitrogen. Assimilation and mineralization of nitrogen are in balance in most plant communities along the gradient from lower to higher salt marshes. Mineralization of nitrogen increases towards the higher salt marsh, whereas the above-ground production and the mean nitrogen content of plants decrease. There is a positive correlation between quality of food plants in salt marshes and breeding success of Brent geese in the arctic tundra. Sedimentation on mainland salt marshes can compensate for the expected sea level rise. This is not the case for island salt marshes, if the relative sea level rise is more than 0.5-1.0 cm yr-1. The natural succession on salt marshes results in an accumulation of organic material, which is related to the dominance of single plant species. It is not clear to which extent this process is enhanced by eutrophication from acid deposition and seawater. Human exploitation of unprotected salt marshes is old and heavy in the system of mound settlements. Reclamation rates by dikes in the last centuries were higher than the rate of area increase. Grazing by cattle as a management practice results in both a higher plant species-richness and community diversity than abandoning; hay-making is intermediate, but shows less structural diversity than grazing with low stocking density. The invertebrate fauna is favoured by a short period of abandoning, but eventually characteristic salt marsh invertebrates are replaced by inland species. Many bird species prefer grazed salt marshes. The final section gives some perspectives. Provided that no further embankments take place the optimal nature management option for plants and animals is a vegetation pattern, which includes areas with a low canopy (grazed) and areas with a tall canopy.

US$19.90

DOI: 10.1007/bf00007263


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