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Sival, F.P., Mücher, H.J., van Delft, S.P.J.: Management of basiphilous dune slack communities in relation to carbonate accumulation and hydrological conditions. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 4: 91-100, 1998.


Abstract.In dune slacks in The Netherlands, a decline of rare mesotrophic basiphilous plant species and their plant communities has been observed in combination with an increase of more productive systems with common, taller acidophilous plant species. This has been attributed to both natural and anthropogenic changes. In a humid climate with a precipitation surplus, as in The Netherlands, the calcium carbonate content of a calcareous soil increases with depth. However, soils in coastal dune slacks, may have a higher carbonate content in the topsoil horizon than in the underlying layers. Carbonates which buffer the pH can prolong the presence of mesotrophic basiphilous plant communities which are of high conservation value. To explain the occurrence of calcareous surface horizons in dune slacks, hydrological and micromorphological analyses were carried out in three dune slacks. Two slacks are situated on the Wadden Sea islands in the northern part of The Netherlands; one on Schiermonnikoog and one on Texel. The third slack is situated in the dunes on the island of Goeree in the southwestern part of The Netherlands. In all three slacks, carbonate occurs as mollusc and gastropod fragments (silt- or sand-sized) and as micritic nodules in the topsoil layer, due to aeolian deposition and sedimentation by water. In situ carbonate accumulation (calcitans and calcareous crusts) due to CO2 release in inundated and/or capillary rise of calcareous groundwater near, or at the soil surface. Accumulation of carbonate also occurs as a result of biological activity by algae in the topsoil of the Goeree site. In general, hydrological processes maintaining high levels of calcareous groundwater are a prerequisite for the maintenance of high carbonate levels in topsoils. Such levels are necessary for the conservation and management of basiphilous pioneer vegetation.

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