Manawatu sand dune vegetation
- Botany Division, D.S.I.R., Auckland
Coastal sand dunes provide a habitat for plants which can withstand:-
(i) a moving substrate which covers and uncovers their roots, has little capacity to store water and affords no encouragement for seedling establishment;
(ii) strong desiccating winds carrying large amounts of salt and driving abrasive sand;
(iii) widely- and rapidly-changing temperatures, because the sparse cover of vegetation does little to moderate the effects of the high specific heat and high reflectivity of sand.
This, perhaps the most adverse of lowland environments, supports a very limited number of plant species fitted, in various ways, to maintain themselves in such conditions. However, a few species flourish and these" by their growth form and behaviour, playa large part in shaping the topography of the sand country.
This paper examines the interplay of plants and habitat in the changing topography of a dune area north of Himatangi Beach (Fig. 1) on the west coast of the Wellington province.