The Effect of the Parasitic Plant on the Salt Marsh Plantation

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TheEffect of the Parasitic Plant on the Salt Marsh Plantation

TheEffect of the Parasitic Plant on the Salt Marsh Plantation

Currentstudies of vegetation dynamics, explain that plant species canreplace each other in the long-term in a pattern known as the mosaiccycle. The research aims at understanding the factors that influencethe continuous replacement of species in vegetation. The environmentselected for the research is the salt marsh in California. The cyclesare influenced by regular disturbances and herbivore patterns in themarsh area. The cycles can also be influenced by certaininteractions. Parasitism is an issue that applies to at least 5,000vegetation species globally (Steven &amp Ragan, 1996). The study,therefore, aims at determining how parasitism affects the structureof the salt marsh vegetation. The dynamics of the salt marshecosystem is also addressed by the scientific study. Parasiticspecies are present in many vegetation communities. The species havesufficient preference for certain hosts. In some cases, they act ascrop pests and thus suppress the host population.

Theresearch is important because it explains how parasitism affects thedynamics and structure of the salt marsh vegetation. Cuscutasalinahas an impact on the salt marsh community. The species influences themosaic cycle of the other vegetation within the salt marshenvironment. Cuscutais a California native species and it is mostly found in the middlemarsh areas. The abundance of the plant is positively correlated tothe presence of Limoniumcalifornicum.Sampling at the individual level shows that the dominant species inthe marsh vegetation is Salicorniavirginica. Cuscutapreferred the dominant Salicorniaas host instead of the other species for example, Frankeniasalina andArthrocnemumsubterminale (Steven&amp Ragan, 1996). The host decision is also influenced by otherfactors for example, flooding, salinity, topography, and nutrientlevels.

Theresearch hypothesis for the study is that Cuscutainfluences vegetation cycle in the salt marsh vegetation. It improvesdiversity by enhancing the development of Frankeniaand Limoniumspecies. This hypothesis is effective in achieving the aim of theresearch because sampling patches from the salt marsh vegetationindicate diverse phenomena of Cuscutainfection. Current samples with huge Cuscutainfection minimize the biomass of Salicorniaspecies.Consequently, the biomass of Frankeniumand Limoniumspecies remains high (Steven &amp Ragan, 1996). Sample patches thatare larger and older have a high concentration of the influence ofthe Cuscutaon other species. The research hypothesis supports the researchquestion: What is the effect of Cuscutasalinaon the marsh vegetation? The species increases the diversity of themarsh vegetation. This is by suppressing the development ofSalicorniaand improving the development of Frankenium(Steven &amp Ragan, 1992).

Theinformation generated by the research is important because itimproves the understanding of environmental diversity. Competition ofspecies in the marsh vegetation is effective in influencing thenatural zonation pattern (Steven &amp Ragan, 1992). Some species aresuppressed by parasitism. The remaining patches are invaded byspecies that are supported by Cuscuta.The site that will be used for the study is Carpinteria Salt Marsh inCalifornia (Steven &amp Ragan, 1996). The site is appropriate forthe study because it is an undisturbed ecosystem and the species aredistributed according to the gradual elevation gradient. The researchstudy is effective in providing information about the relationshipbetween species in the marsh environment.


Steven,C. and Ragan, M. (1992). “Salt Marsh Plant Zonation: The RelativeImportance of Competition and Physical Factors.” TheEcological Society of America,73(2): 681-690.

StevenC. and Ragan, M. (1996). “Impact of a Parasitic Plant on theStructure and Dynamics of Salt Marsh Vegetation.” Ecology,77(5): 1410-1419.

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