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Effect of salinity on the critical nitrogen concentration of Spartina alterniflora Loisel

January 1, 1992

Nitrogen was withheld from the salt marsh grass Spartina alterniflora Loisel., in order to determine the effect of salinity (sea salts) on critical tissue nitrogen concentrations (defined here as the minimum tissue concentration required to sustain biomass accumulation). The critical nitrogen concentration per kilogram dry weight of above-ground tissue increased non-linearly from a mean of 8.2 g kg-1 at 5 g l-1 and 20 g l-1 salinity to 13.6 g kg-1 and 22.9 g kg-1 at salinities of 40 g l-1 and 50 g l-1, respectively. Below-ground tissue nitrogen concentrations averaged 62% of the above-ground values irrespective of salinity treatment. These results suggest that the critical nitrogen concentration is a function of salinity and indicate that the internal nitrogen supply required in support of growth increases with salinity. Above-ground tissue nitrogen concentrations reported in the literature and the relationship between salinity and critical nitrogen concentration observed in this study were used to evaluate the nitrogen status of S. alterniflora over a wide range of geographical locations. Comparisons suggest that both short and tall forms of S. alterniflora are nitrogen limited in the majority of marshes along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts of the US. ?? 1992.

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