The existence of different growth forms (tall and short) in various species of the genus Spartina has, on occasion, been attributed to differences in the availability of nutrients. In the present work, macronutrient (N, P, K, Mg, Ca, S) and micronutrient (Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu) contents of the soils and tissues (leaves and stems) of three populations of S. maritima from the NW Iberian Peninsula were studied. The results obtained showed that although there were differences in the physicochemical properties of the soils and in the concentration of nutrients in soils and plants at the different locations, these do not explain the different growth forms of S. maritima. Since other authors have found that the growth forms displayed by different species of the same genus are in part due to genotypic differences, ecotypic differentiation, along with other environmental factors that were not assessed in this research, may control the differences in height and biomass of S. maritima. However, more detailed studies of this species are required in order to assess the importance of environmental (e.g., fertilization experiments) and genetic factors (e.g., RAPD analysis) that influence the growth form of natural populations of Spartina maritima.
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Vol. 20 • No. 3