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Cartaxana, P., Catarino, F.: Allocation of nitrogen and carbon in an estuarine salt marsh in Portugal. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 3: 27-34, 1997.


Abstract. Above and below-ground biomass and nitrogen and carbon composition of Spartina maritima, Halimione portulacoides and Arthrocnemum perenne, dominating species in plant communities of the lower, middle and higher salt marsh, respectively, were compared in an estuarine salt marsh in Portugal. Plant and soil nitrogen and carbon pools were estimated. For all three species root biomass was significantly higher (70 - 92 % of total biomass) than above-ground biomass. The percentage of root biomass was related to the location of the plants in the marsh: higher values were found in plants growing in the lower salt marsh where the sediment was more unstable and subject to tidal action, which stresses the role of the roots as an anchor. For all three species nitrogen concentrations were highest in leaves, reflecting the photosynthetic role of the tissue. For carbon higher concentrations were found in the stems, with the exception of S. maritima. In general, lower nitrogen concentrations were found in summer, which can be explained by dilution processes due to plant growth. For both nitrogen and carbon, higher concentrations were found in the soil surface layers. Higher soil nitrogen and carbon levels were associated with higher organic matter contents. Most of the nitrogen in the salt marsh occurred in the sediments (0-40 cm) and only ca. 5.7 - 13.3 % of the total was found in the plants. The greater portion (76.5 % - 86 %) of carbon was found in the sediment.

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