Effects of alternate flooding–drought conditions on degenerated Phragmites australis salt marsh in Northeast China

Li, X. Y., et al., 2017. Restoration Ecology

Original research (primary data)
View External Publication Link


The hydrological regime is the dominant factor associated with the degradation and restoration of inland salt marshes in Northeast China. This study investigates whether alternate flooding-drought conditions could be used to actively restore degraded inland salt marshes with the native plant Phragmites australis. Pot experiments were designed to examine changes in the growth and physiology of P. australis, as well as the saline-alkaline soil characteristics, in response to different hydrological regimes, alternate flooding-drought treatments, and single treatments of moisture, flooding, and drought. After 4 months of treatments, the P. australis population that grew in alternate flooding-drought conditions exhibited substantially more biomass accumulation and less Na+ absorption compared with the single treatments of moisture, flooding, and drought. Photosynthesis physiology served as regulating and adaptive responses to different water regimes, with increased values after the short-term flooding, long-term drought, and flooding-drought cycles. In addition, the saline-alkaline soil properties changed in response to the flooding-drought cycles. The flooding-drought cycles increased organic matter and total nitrogen contents, but decreased pH, electrical conductivity, and saline ion levels. Plant growth and saline-alkaline soil were improved by flooding-drought cycles (not drought-flooding cycles), which suggests that this may be an effective approach for restoration inland salt marshes.

Case studies

Basic information

  • Case ID: INT-094-1
  • Intervention type: Restoration
  • Intervention description:

    Field experiment, but no control. Employing alternate flooding – drought conditions in the restoration of inland salt marshes test 5 different combinations of hydrological regime treatments: moisture (M), drought (D), flooding (F), drought – flooding cycles (drought – flooding – drought – flooding, DF), and flooding – drought cycles ( flooding – drought – flooding – drought, FD)

  • Landscape/sea scape ecosystem management: Yes
  • Climate change impacts Effect of Nbs on CCI Effect measures
    Loss of other ecosystem goods  Positive height and biomass accumulation (both aboveground and belowground biomass) of target species, Phragmites australis
  • Approach implemented in the field: Yes
  • Specific location:

    Niuxintaobao marshes (45∘13′N, 123∘21′E), located in West Songnen Plain in Northeast China (Fig. 1).

  • Country: China
  • Habitat/Biome type: Saltmarsh |
  • Issue specific term: Not applicable


  • Notes on intervention effectivness: no control, test effectiveness by assessing change since restoration experiment started *focus of paper is to control different modifications of restoration treatments and compare their effectiveness
  • Is the assessment original?: Yes
  • Broadtype of intervention considered: Not applicable
  • Compare effectivness?: No
  • Compared to the non-NBS approach: Not applicable
  • Report greenhouse gas mitigation?: No
  • Impacts on GHG: Not applicable
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on natural ecosystems: No
  • Impacts for the ecosystem: Not reported
  • Ecosystem measures:
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on people: No
  • Impacts for people: Not reported
  • People measures:
  • Considers economic costs: No
  • Economic appraisal conducted: No
  • Economic appraisal described:
  • Economic costs of alternative considered: No
  • Compared to an alternative: Not reported

Evaluation methodology

  • Type of data: Quantitative
  • Is it experimental: No
  • Experimental evalution done: Not applicable
  • Non-experimental evalution done: Empirical case study
  • Study is systematic: