Contributor: Valerie Tollett
Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is determined by its tolerance to salty
conditions. The southern marshes
that are feed by Rattlesnake creek have the lowest salinity.
Species that thrive in this area are cattails, common reed grass and
bullrush. The northern marshes have
the highest salinity. The dominate
species in this area is inland saltgrass, red saltwort, and sea blite.
The far north site of the Big Salt Marsh contains no vegetation most of
the year due to salt flats.
of the vegetation at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of
halophytes. Halophytes are plants
the thrive when the water contains greater than 0.5% NaCl.
Living in this environment requires structural, phonological,
physiological and biochemical mechanisms for salt resistance.
Very few families have been able to develop such resistance.
Halophytes are often classified as excretives and succulents.
Excretives have glandular cells that are capable of secreting excess
salts from the plant. Succulents increase the water content in the cells by
developing large vacuoles.
plants include cordgrasses (Spartina alterniflora, S. patens), alkali
grass (Puccinellia phryganodes), and shoregrass (Monanthochloe
littoralis). Saltgrass (Distichlis stricta) is one of these halophytes
that is found on Quivira NWR. Succulent
species are more wide spread on the refuge and consist of red saltwort (Salicornia
rubra) and Sea blite (Suaeda calceoliformis).
can also be classified as obligate or facultative.
Obligate halophytes require some salt, and facultative halophytes can
also live in freshwater environments. Many
of the species found at Quivira NWR are facultative halophytes.