Facilitation, herbivory, indian river lagoon, mangroves, saltmarsh
Coastal wetland plants serve as ecological engineers in a physiologically stressful environment and the loss of coastal wetlands can cause negative effects throughout the estuarine system. Due to increased degradation of coastal habitats worldwide, interest in restoration has increased around the world. An understanding of the biotic processes affecting species distribution and diversity is critical for future conservation, management, and restoration of coastal wetlands. The purpose of my study was to test the effects of biotic interactions on native coastal wetland plants and determine how these interactions may be incorporated into current and future restoration projects. I had three primary goals for my dissertation. First, I evaluated the effectiveness of natural regeneration of coastal wetland communities following hydrological restoration. Second, I examined effects of biotic interactions between mangroves and other wetland species by experimentally testing: 1) trapping capabilities of early successional plant species on Rhizophora mangle propagules, 2) effects of pre-dispersal propagule damage on native mangrove species, 3) facilitative and competitive interactions between the plants Rhizophora mangle, Batis maritima, Sarcocornia perennis, and the fiddler crab, Uca pugilator using mesocosms. Third, I evaluated the combined effects of biotic and abiotic interactions on survival and growth of R. mangle propagules during their first year of establishment using a manipulative field experiment. Results from my study increase our knowledge of the importance of biotic interactions in coastal wetland communities, their role in early successional stages, and have direct applications to coastal wetland restoration and management.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Conservation Biology; Applied Conservation Biology Track
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Donnelly, Melinda, "Effects of biotic interactions on coastal wetland communities with applications for restoration" (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4607.