Spartina anglica population and environmental studies within the Solent salt marsh system.
University of Southampton, School of Civil Engineering and the Environment,
The thesis examines the possible causes of decline of Spartina anglica marshes along the south coast of Britain with emphasis on the Solent marshes. The study shows that although there may be some genotypic differences between S. anglica gathered from sites in Britain. The disparities are not large enough to explain the significant differences in morphological vigour of S. anglica observed in the field. It concludes that the discrepancies observed in the field are the result of phenotypic differences resulting from environmental factors. The work shows that in the S. anglica marshes of the south coast, anaerobic soil conditions prevail with impeded drainage being the most likely cause of the dwarf growth forms and lack of re-colonisation of pans and mudflats observed in the field. The thesis concludes that the ultimate demise of the S. anglica marshes of the south coast of England is the result of frontal and creek erosion of the mature marsh and the failure of S. anglica to establish itself on the newly exposed sediments of the foreshore. When S. anglica establishes itself in a flood /ebb neutral zone of an estuary, it changes the bathymetry to that of ebb dominant morphology. As a result eroded sediment is swept away with the outgoing tide. Furthermore, S. anglica is then unable to recolonise the exposed foreshore sediments because of its low redox potential resulting from poor permeability which is the consequence of the of historic overburden pressure of a once colonising marsh
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