Chapter

Abiotic Constraints for Wetland Plants and Animals

Irving A. Mendelssohn and Darold P. Batzer

in Ecology of Freshwater and Estuarine Wetlands

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780520247772
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932890 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520247772.003.0004
Abiotic Constraints for Wetland Plants and Animals

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Wetland habitats can be stressful places for plants and animals to live, although most wetland organisms are well adapted to cope with the environmental challenges posed. The two most important abiotic factors influencing wetland biota are hydrology and the chemistry of soils and water. Although all wetland plants are certainly flood tolerant, dramatic differences in flood tolerance occur among wetland species. As a result, excessive duration and depth of flooding can influence the distribution and growth of some species more than others. The three major impacts of flooding for plants are root oxygen deficiency, soil phytotoxin accumulation, and post-anoxic injury. This chapter discusses how hydrology constrains plant and animal populations, and considers some of the ways that biota have become adapted for life in hydrologically diverse wetlands. It also examines the constraints imposed by low oxygen levels, which are related to hydrology. Finally, the chapter assesses the constraints imposed by salinity, and describes adaptations of plants and animals for life in saline wetlands.

Keywords: wetlands; plants; animals; flooding; hydrology; chemistry; root oxygen deficiency; soil phytotoxin accumulation; post-anoxic injury; salinity

Chapter.  12441 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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