Is zonation on coastal sand dunes determined primarily by sand burial or by salt spray? A test in New Zealand dunes


J. Bastow Wilson Email:


There has long been controversy on which environmental factor is the predominant determinant of community zonation on sand dunes. It is demonstrated here that, on a dune system in southern New Zealand, several environmental factors that could limit growth all vary along the sea-to-inland sand dune zonation: soil moisture, soil nutrients, wind exposure, sand burial, salt spray and soil salinity. Correlation of the responses of 30 species to experimental stress (burial, darkness, rooting-medium salinity and salt spray) with the zonation of the species in the field indicates that, in the four dune systems studied, sand burial and salt are both important, with salt generally being the more important. However, the relative importance of the factors differs between sites.