Palatability of salt marsh forbs and grasses to the purple marsh crab (Sesarma reticulatum) and the potential for re-vegetation of herbivory-induced salt marsh dieback areas in cape cod (Massachusetts, USA)
Field plots were used to assess the restoration potential of three salt marsh species, Juncus maritimus, Leptocarpus similis and Schoenoplectus pungens, within an established salt marsh near Christchurch, New Zealand. A split-block design was used to asses the effects of soil type, (soil from a proposed marsh construction site or estuarine mud from a natural salt marsh), species and plant source (commercial nursery stocks or natural marsh stock). In December, after 9 months, there was no mortality in L. similis and a significant increase in the biomass compared with J. maritimus. S. pungens failed to regenerate following seasonal die-back. Plant biomass was unaffected by soil type, despite occasional higher salinities recorded in the reclamation soil. Natural stocks had significantly higher biomass than nursery stocks (p < 0.01). These results suggest that both L. similis and J. maritimus are appropriate species for transplanting in the Canterbury region and that the soil from the proposed area is suitable for the restoration and construction of tidal wetlands. The success of the transplants could be enhanced by sourcing hardy stock and management regimes may be necessary to reduce salinity extremes and herbivory by rabbits.