Li, J. and Gao, S., 2013. Estimating deposition rates using a morphological proxy of Spartina alterniflora plants.
Based on field investigations at five sites on the southern Jiangsu coast, eastern China, we propose a new method for estimating the deposition rate using the morphological data of Spartina alterniflora Loisel plants. This species was introduced to the region in the 1980s. The separating point of the root and stem (SPRS), below the bed surface, is quite stable for living plants. Furthermore, the distance between the present-day bed surface and the SPRS of the buried, oldest plants can be measured. Hence, the difference between these two distances represents the thickness of newly accumulated materials. If the colonization time of this species is known, then the deposition rate can be deduced. In the study area, at one of the sites with a relatively short history (<10 y) of S. alterniflora colonization, the deposition rate thus obtained is close to the value 210Pb measurements. Similarly, at a site with a relatively long colonization history, similar mean deposition rates have been estimated. This method enables researchers to easily determine the deposition rate in the field, if the time of initial colonization by the S. alterniflora plant is known.