Sargassum as a natural solution to enhance dune plant growth. Academic Article uri icon


  • Many beach management practices focus on creating an attractive environment for tourists, but can detrimentally affect long-term dune integrity. One such practice is mechanical beach raking in which the wrack line is removed from the beach front. In Texas, Sargassum fluitans and natans, types of brown alga, are the main components of wrack and may provide a subsidy to the ecosystem. In this study, we used greenhouse studies to test the hypothesis that the addition of sargassum can increase soil nutrients and produce increased growth in dune plants. We also conducted an analysis of the nutrients in the sargassum to determine the mechanisms responsible for any growth enhancement. Panicum amarum showed significant enhancement of growth with the addition of sargassum, and while Helianthus debilis, Ipomoea stolonifera, Sporobolus virginicus, and Uniola paniculata responded slightly differently to the specific treatments, none were impaired by the addition of sargassum. In general, plants seemed to respond well to unwashed sargassum and multiple additions of sargassum, indicating that plants may have adapted to capitalize on the subsidy in its natural state directly from the ocean. For coastal managers, the use of sargassum as a fertilizer could be a positive, natural, and efficient method of dealing with the accumulation of wrack on the beach.

published proceedings

  • Environ Manage

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Williams, A., & Feagin, R.

citation count

  • 47

complete list of authors

  • Williams, Amy||Feagin, Rusty

publication date

  • January 2010