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Abstract

A study was carried out at Loburu delta, Lake Bogoria National Reserve, Kenya, on the effect of different levels of soil salinity and moisture on plant species distribution, production, reproductive strategy and litter decomposition. The soils are coarse and vary significantly in levels of salinity and moisture. The highest salinity was greater than 3.0 S/m, ECe. Soil moisture was significantly higher in the more saline than non-saline or low salinity soils because of ground seepage. Sixteen plant species were collected but only Sporobolus spicatus and Cyperus laevigatus were determined to be true halophytes. Biomass and above-ground production were significantly higher in the high and medium saline soils than the non-saline or hyper-saline soils (>3.0 S/m, Ece). Precipitation promoted various aspects of production in both halophytes at various levels of salinity. Soil salinity did not influence biomass allocation to reproductive structures but precipitation enhanced allocation to stolons in Sporobolus spicatus. The dead plant mass was significantly higher than biomass at all salinities, which indicated low grazing pressure at the site. Litter decomposition was only marginally reduced by high soil salinity. It was concluded that low moisture limits biomass and production on the non-saline soils and salinity is responsible for low production in the hyper-saline soils.