Rangeland Ecology & Management

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Foraging by geese, isostatic uplift and asymmetry in the development of salt-marsh plant communities
Hik, D. S., R. L. Jefferies, A. R. E. Sinclair
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Authors examined the response of different salt-marsh plant communities to grazing by lesser snow geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) and isostatic uplift at La Perouse Bay, Manitoba, on the Hudson Bay coast. In the presence of grazing, this change from the Puccinellia-Carex assemblage to the Calamagrostis-Festuca assemblage occurs gradually as a consequence of changes in edaphic conditions associated with isostatic uplift. The geese delay the rate of vegetational development associated with the effects of isostatic uplift but they cannot arrest it. Both types of plant assemblage may become extinct locally as a result of grubbing by the geese for roots and rhizomes of graminoid species. Habitat conditions are sufficiently altered following goose grubbing, and resulting in the succession process recommencing from bare sediment. The results of changes in floristic composition, above-ground biomass and replacement rates of vegetation are examined in relation to predictions of multiple-state models which emphasize the directional asymmetry in the development of plant communities.

arctic salt-marshes
edaphic processes
grazing lawns
lesser snow goose
multiple-state communities
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