Vegetation and ecological characteristics of the northernmost salt marshes of the European continent

9 May 2019

Dite, Daniel; Dite, Zuzana; Hajkova, Petra; Suvada, Robert

We surveyed 17 locations of salt marshes along the Barents Sea coast in northern Norway (Finnmark, Nordkinnhalvøya and Varangerhalvøya), where 86 phytosociological relevés were recorded and analyzed. Two main vegetation groups were identified: Caricion glareosae and Puccinellion phryganodis, both alliances belonging to the class Juncetea maritimi, order Puccinellietalia phryganodis. The first, Caricion glareosae (upper marshes) is subject to shorter-term flooding and is saturated by brackish water in river estuaries on sandy or sandy gravel soils. Four units were distinguished: Festuceto-Caricetum glareosae, Caricetum mackenzie, Caricetum salinae and the Plantago maritima x borealis community. The second group (lower marshes on fine muddy surface, higher salinity, inundated for a longer period directly by the sea) belongs to the alliance Puccinellion phryganodis which encompasses two units: the associations Caricetum subspathaceae and Puccinellietum phryganodis. The floristic composition and habitat preferences of each vegetation cluster are described and our study revealed that there are no significant differences in the vegetation composition of salt marshes beyond the Arctic line and the southern subarctic sites. The observed variations are related to the geomorphology of the sites rather than to their latitude.

doi: 10.1111/njb.02334