Introduce nurse plants: brackish/salt marshes
Overall effectiveness category No evidence found (no assessment)
Number of studies: 0
Background information and definitions
Nurse plants (also known as companion plants or pioneer plants) can be planted to help naturally recolonizing vegetation (Padilla & Pugnaire 2006). Nurse plants may trap and stabilize sediments, trap propagules, reduce harsh environmental conditions (e.g. temperature fluctuations and strong sunlight), attract pollinators, deflect herbivory away from focal species, and/or limit weed establishment. Caution: Nurse plant species must be chosen carefully. Species that spread easily or are very strong competitors can cause more harm than good. For example, the non-native mangrove apple Sonneratia apetala has been used to restore Chinese mangroves, but has spread into neighbouring forests (Ren et al. 2009).
To be summarized as evidence for this action, studies must have reported the effects of the nurse plants on other vegetation, not just the survival or growth of the nurse plants. Studies must have explicitly planted vegetation for its nursing effect. Studies are summarized under other interventions if (a) the nurse plant is itself a desirable part of the final plant community, (b) if vegetation other than nurse plants is introduced, or (c) desirable vegetation is planted into existing nurse vegetation. Studies of the nursing effect of existing vegetation (e.g. Lewis & Dunstan 1975; McKee et al. 2007) are outside the scope of this synopsis.
Related actions: Introduce target marsh vegetation – Directly plant whole plants, Introduce vegetation fragments or Introduce seeds or propagules; Introduce nurse plants to complement planting of marsh vegetation.
Lewis R.R. & Dunstan F.M. (1975) The possible role of Spartina alterniflora Loisel in establishment of mangroves in Florida. Proceedings of the 2nd Annual Conference on Restoration of Coastal Vegetation in Florida, Tampa, Florida, 81–100.
McKee K.L., Rooth J.E. & Feller I.C. (2007) Mangrove recruitment after forest disturbance is facilitated by herbaceous species in the Caribbean. Ecological Applications, 17, 1678–1693.
Padilla F.M. & Pugnaire F.I. (2006) The role of nurse plants in the restoration of degraded environments. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 4, 196–202.
Ren H., Lu H., Shen W., Huang C., Guo Q., Li Z. & Jian S. (2009) Sonneratia apetala Buch.Ham in the mangrove ecosystems of China: an invasive species or restoration species? Ecological Engineering, 35, 1243–1248.