Salinity

Soil salinity comes from salt spray and foam blown inland, and the amount of salt usually correlates well with the distance inland or degree of protection from the wind. In some regions with a Mediterranean climate, such as

California, soil salinity follows a seasonal progression. Late summer additions by fog and salt spray result in high values at this time of the year. Winter rains leach salt away, salinity decreases, and in early spring reaches its lowest level. Salinity gradients affect species distribution, especially for those plants sensitive to salinity. Germination and growth might be difficult when soil salinity is high. Salts in the soil affect plants by making water less available, and high salinity is considered a physiological drought. Frequently, there are no shared species between the beach and the more sheltered or inland areas of the dunes. Experiments on sea rockets (Cakile maritima) and lupines (Lupinus spp.) which were sprayed with seawater showed that lupine seedlings were not tolerant of salt spray. The level of salt spray in a Californian beach may be 1 mgcm~2d_1 on a calm day, but is much higher on a windy day. On other beaches and dunes, where onshore winds are not as strong, airborne spray is very low and plants are not subjected to these conditions.

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