Lepidium latifolium (perennial pepperweed) is recognized as a threat to wetland habitats throughout much of the western United States, but its role in tidal marshes has not been explored. Over three seasons in three regions of San Francisco Estuary (Suisun, San Pablo, and South San Francisco bays), we characterized locations in tidal marshes where monotypic stands of L. latifolium are replacing the native Sarcocornia pacifica (pickleweed). Soils within L. latifolium stands had significantly lower moisture, salinity, organic matter, and carbon ∶ nitrogen (C ∶ N) and higher pH than in adjacent S. pacifica stands at similar elevation and distance from channels. In addition, L. latifolium canopies were 2 to 3 times taller, thus increasing light reaching soils, and tended to support different insect/spider assemblages (sampled only at the Suisun site). Patterns were generally consistent across the three sites, although less pronounced for some measures at the South Bay site. Overall, these data suggest that L. latifolium invasion of tidal marshes is leading to modification of both structural and functional properties, several of which might further facilitate spread of the invader; however, additional study is needed to determine cause vs. effect for several soil characteristics.
Nomenclature: Perennial pepperweed, Lepidium latifolium Linnaeus, Sarcocornia pacifica (Standl.) A. J. Scott.