Tropical cyclonic storm systems can have profound impacts on coastal plant communities both through direct mechanical damage and indirect factors, such as flooding or salt spray. Storms with high wind and low rainfall are especially likely to cause high salt spray accumulation on plants growing in close proximity to the ocean. I measured salt spray accumulation on a common coastal heathland plant species, Myrica pensylvanica, during normal growing-season conditions and following Tropical Storm Floyd. At both sampling times, salt spray accumulation was highest in areas closest to the ocean and salt decreased as distance from the ocean increased. Salt spray accumulation on leaves following the tropical storm was twice the salt spray accumulation during normal growing-season conditions. I also found higher necrosis on leaves following the tropical storm, particularly at distances farther from the ocean. These results suggest that even minor cyclonic storms could have an impact on coastal plants in New England through salt spray damage.
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