Response of Coastal Plants to Increase in Submergence and Salinity


  • R. D. DeLaune
  • S. R. Pezeshki
  • W. H. Patrick, Jr.


Saltwater intrusion, wetland sea-level rise



Increases in salinity and submergence resulting from the predicted rise in global sea level will alter regional patterns of wetland distribution. Changes in coastal wetland soil physicochemical properties due to increased flooding will adversely influence normal plant metabolic functioning and consequently survival and growth of coastal plant species. Increased flooding along coastal regions will cause more rapid and frequent soil oxygen depletion. As alternate electron acceptors become reduced, and redox potential decreases, potentially toxic compounds tend to accumulate causing alterations in normal plant substrate conditions. These changes will alter present plant-soil interactions characteristic of flooded systems which in turn will affect physiological functions of wetland macrophytes. The combination of flooding and salinity stresses will change plant productivity, species distribution, and successional patterns of plant communities in coastal regions. Likewise, there will be conversion of wetland to open water if plant communities cannot compensate for predicted increases in coastal submergence.