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Am J Bot. 2004 Aug;91(8):1251-9. doi: 10.3732/ajb.91.8.1251.

Variation in wetland seed banks across a tidal freshwater landscape.

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  • 1Marine-Estuarine-Environmental Sciences Program, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742 USA;


Almost nothing is known about landscape-level variation in seed bank composition across complexes of hydrologically connected wetlands. We examined species composition of seed and spore banks in three habitats of tidal freshwater wetlands (marshes, swamp hollows, and swamp hummocks) along 48 km of tributaries throughout the tidal freshwater portions of the Nanticoke River watershed (Maryland and Delaware). Taxa and seedling density decreased with increasing distance upstream in the swamp hollows and hummocks, but increased or remained constant proceeding upstream in the marshes. Species rarefaction curves indicated equal taxa richness (28) between marshes and swamp hummocks at 175 individuals, with lower richness in swamp hollows (19). However, communities in swamp hollows were patchier and had an estimated total taxa richness of 52, similar to the marshes (50) and higher than swamp hummocks (41). Coefficients of variation for seedling emergence densities (136-180%) were greater than those of published seed bank studies conducted at smaller spatial scales in tidal freshwater marshes (36-117%). Our literature searches suggest that ours is the first study to document significant spatial trends in seed bank diversity and density across a wetland landscape.

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