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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Landscape-Level Assessment and Management of Invasive Weeds and their Impacts in Agricultural and Natural Systems

Location: Exotic and Invasive Weeds Research

Title: Effectiveness of the aquatic halophyte Sarcocornia perennis spp. perennis as a biotool for ecological restoration of metal-contaminated salt marshes

Authors
item Curadmo, Guillermo -
item GREWELL, BRENDA
item Figueroa, Enrique -
item Castillo, Jesus -

Submitted to: Journal Of Water Air And Soil Pollution
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 28, 2014
Publication Date: August 14, 2014
Repository URL: http://
Citation: Curadmo, G., Grewell, B.J., Figueroa, E., Castillo, J.M. 2014. Effectiveness of the aquatic halophyte Sarcocornia perennis spp. perennis as a biotool for ecological restoration of metal-contaminated salt marshes. Journal Of Water Air And Soil Pollution. 225(9):1-14. DOI: 10.1007/s11270-014-2108-5.

Interpretive Summary: Invasion of coastal salt marshes by exotic plant species has contributed to their degradation, along with other anthropogenic influences such as metal loading, eutrophication, bank erosion and climate change. The historic significance of great biological diversity prompted UNESCO to declare the Odiel Marshes of Spain a Biosphere Reserve of international significance. Restoration plantings of halophytes have been established following eradication of invasive populations of the exotic cordgrass, Spartina densiflora but sediments in Odiel Marshes are still impacted by the accumulation of metals. Ecological restoration and creation of salt marshes is needed to compensate for their degradation and loss, but little is known about halophytes as plant biotools in restoration projects. The aim of this study was to evaluate Sarcocornia perennis spp. perennis (perennial glasswort), a common halophyte in European, African and South America salt marshes, as a restoration biotool. We analysed sediment conditions and quantified biomass production, and the concentration and stock of carbon, nitrogen and nine heavy metals in the tissues of S. perennis, 28 months after planting to the restoration site. S. perennis had accumulated above-ground biomass values (ca. 1600 g DW m-2) within the range recorded previously for natural populations, but root biomass was lower than for mature natural populations. S. perennis prairies accumulated 299 g C m-2 year-1 and 25 g N m-2 year-1. We quantified plant transfer coefficients that documented the ability of transplanted S. perennis to hyperaccumulate seven metals (Al, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Ni, and Zn). Arsenic and lead also accumulated in the plant biomass, but at lower levels. The highest metal concentrations were recorded in plant roots. Our results provide strong support for the use of S. perennis transplants as a biotool for salt marsh soft engineering projects at low-medium elevations in the tidal gradient. Use of live vegetation for metal extraction may enhance other restoration functions including phytostablization, reduced eutrophication and may offset negative effects of climate change.

Technical Abstract: Ecological restoration and creation of salt marshes is needed to compensate for their degradation and loss, but little is known about halophytes as plant biotools in restoration projects. Restoration plantings of halophytes have been established following eradication of invasive populations of the exotic cordgrass, Spartina densiflora but sediments in these marshes are still impacted by the accumulation of metals. The aim of this study was to evaluate Sarcocornia perennis spp. perennis, a common halophyte in European, African and South America salt marshes, as a restoration biotool. We analysed sediment conditions and quantified biomass production, and the concentration and stock of carbon, nitrogen and nine metals (Al, As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Ni, Pb and Zn) in the tissues of S. perennis, 28 months after planting for restoration of the Odiel Marshes. S. perennis had accumulated above-ground biomass values (ca. 1600 g DW m-2) within the range recorded previously for natural populations, but root biomass was lower than for mature natural populations. S. perennis prairies accumulated 299 g C m-2 year-1 and 25 g N m-2 year-1. With the exception of Pb and As, plant transfer coefficient results document the ability of transplanted S. perennis to hyperaccumulate nearly every metal we measured. The highest metal concentrations were recorded in S. p. ssp. perennis roots. Our results provide strong support for the use of S. p. ssp. perennis transplants as a biotool for salt marsh soft engineering projects at low-medium elevations in the tidal gradient. Use of live vegetation for metal extraction may enhance other restoration functions including phytostablization, reduced eutrophication and negative effects of climate change.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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