Artificial topography changes the growth strategy of Spartina alterniflora, case study with wave exposure as a comparison
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This paper reports findings about the growth of Spartina alterniflora (Loisel.) near an engineered coastal protection defences to discover the potential influences on vegetation growth from the artificial topography. Impacts of the artificial topography on the sediment element composition were detected by comparing the fixed effects caused by artificial topography and wave exposure using linear mixed models. Surficial sediments under the impacts of artificial topography contain elevated levels of biogenic elements and heavy metals, including C (and organic carbon), N, S, Al, Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, As, Cd, Cr, Ni, and Pb. The results showed that element enrichment caused by artificial topography reduced the vegetation sexual reproduction. Contrary to the potential inhibition caused by direct wave exposure, which was due to the biomass accumulation limit, the inhibition caused by artificial topography was related to the transition of growth strategy. The contents of Cu, Mn, N, Ni, S and As in the sediments were critical in considering the relationship between the change in the sediment element composition and the alteration in the plant growth. Our study emphasizes the importance of rethinking the impacts of coastal development projects, especially regarding the heterogeneity of sediment element composition and its ecological consequences.