Primary sand-dune plant community and soil properties during the west-coast India monsoon

Andrew Willis, Philip Harris, B. F. Rodrigues, Tim Sparks

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Abstract

A seven-station interrupted belt transect was established that followed a previously observed plant zonation pattern across an aggrading primary coastal dune system in the dry tropical region of west-coast India. The dominant weather pattern is monsoon from June to November, followed by hot and dry winter months when rainfall is scarce. Physical and chemical soil characteristics in each of the stations were analysed on five separate occasions, the first before the onset of monsoon, three during and the last post-monsoon. The plant community pattern was confirmed by quadrat survey. A pH gradient decreased with distance from the shoreline. Nutrient concentrations were deficient, increasing only in small amounts until the furthest station inland. At that location, there was a distinct and abrupt pedological transition zone from psammite to humic soils. There was a significant increase over previous stations in mean organic matter, ammonium nitrate and soil-water retention, although the increase in real terms was small. ANOVA showed significant variation in electrical conductivity, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and sodium concentrations over time. There was no relationship between soil chemistry characteristics and plant community structure over the transect. Ipomoea pes-caprae and Spinifex littoreus were restricted to the foredunes, the leguminous forb Alysicarpus vaginalis and Perotis indica to the two stations furthest from the strand. Ischaemum indicum, a C4 perennial grass species adopting an ephemeral strategy was, in contrast, ubiquitous to all stations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Ecology
Volume(in press)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2016

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Keywords

  • dunes
  • monsoon
  • plant community
  • soil chemistry
  • transect survey
  • west coast of India

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