<b> DETERMINING THE EFFECT OF MARINE FUEL OIL ON <i> Spartina alterniflora </i> AND <i> Spartina patens </i> GROWTH AND THE EFFECT OF FERTILIZER ON <i> Spartina alterniflora </i> GROWTH AND ROOT PRODUCTION </b>
Replanting of intertidal salt marshes with native plant species has been used as an oil spill restoration tactic. These replanting restoration projects attempt to re-establish marsh function and inhibit erosion. Nutrient enrichment may be an option when restoring salt marsh ecosystems but there is conflicting evidence amendment provides an increase in belowground biomass to help stabilize the marsh and prevent erosion. The purpose of this study to determine the level at which marine fuel oil will have an adverse effect on <i> Spartina alterniflora </i> and <i> Spartina patens </i> and to measure the stem growth and root production of <i> S. alterniflora </i> in response to fertilizer treatment. <i>Spartina sp. </i> plugs were treated with five different oil slick thicknesses ranging from 0µm to 3000µm in a greenhouse. After 28-d, the plant stem height, stem density, and aboveground and below ground biomass were recorded. Overall, there was no significant effect of oil on plant performance for both grass species. There was no significant difference in stem density and stem height 140-d after removing the standing oiled stem. <i>S. alterniflora </i> seedlings were treated with Osmocote™ smart-release fertilizer (“high” and “low” treatments) along with a control. Endpoints included stem density, stem height, aboveground and belowground biomass, root and rhizome length, and root and rhizome diameter. The “high” fertilizer treatment was determined to increase stem density and stem height. There was no significant effect of fertilizer on root or rhizome production. This study focused on plant growth and physiology however, the implications of oil on salt marsh ecosystems at a community and ecosystem level still warrant additional monitoring and research to better understand these interactions.