1 October 2013 Effect of Polyacrylamide Gel on Woody Plant Establishment in Barrier Island Swales
Deborah L. Miller, Mack Thetford, Lesley W. Atwood
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Increased hurricane frequency and intensity and residential and commercial development are contributing to loss of maritime forests, coastal hammocks, and scrub dunes. Barriers to natural regeneration necessitate active restoration. We evaluated the survival of woody species planted in ephemeral barrier island swales on Santa Rosa Island, Florida, in an effort to restore barrier island scrub and pine forest lost in recent hurricanes. Contractors planted sand live oak (Quercus geminata) on swale ridges, inkberry (Ilex glabra) on swale mid-slopes, and slash pine (Pinus elliottii) in swale depressions. Polyacrylamide gels are often used to increase transplant survival in the drought-prone, sandy environments. To assist us in evaluating the efficacy of these gels, contractors planted 10 plants with gel and 10 without for each swale, position, and woody species. We followed plant survival for 21 months and measured changes in plant height after one year. Polyacrylamide gel did not significantly affect survival of slash pine or sand live oak. Less than 25% of slash pine and sand live oak survived after 21 months. We found initial survival of inkberry was greater with than without gel, but plant death continued; and after eight weeks, we found no difference in survival for inkberry planted with and without gel. Inkberry survival declined to < 5% at the last evaluation. Changes in plant height were also not affected by Polyacrylamide gel. We do not recommend the use of Polyacrylamide gel to replace supplemental water or to replace the planting of deeply rooted plants on barrier islands.

Deborah L. Miller, Mack Thetford, and Lesley W. Atwood "Effect of Polyacrylamide Gel on Woody Plant Establishment in Barrier Island Swales," Natural Areas Journal 33(4), 395-403, (1 October 2013). https://doi.org/10.3375/043.033.0402
Published: 1 October 2013
barrier islands
Maritime forest
sand live oak
scrub dunes
slash pine
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