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‘Social distancing’ between plants may amplify coastal restoration at early stage

Cite this dataset

Huang, Hao; Xu, Chi; Liu, Quan‐Xing (2021). ‘Social distancing’ between plants may amplify coastal restoration at early stage [Dataset]. Dryad.


This dataset contains data and codes from three field experiments described in the paper: “Hao Huang, Chi Xu and Quan-Xing Liu. (2021) ‘Social distancing’ between plants may amplify coastal restoration at early stage, Journal of Applied Ecology, DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.14044”. 

The experiment investigates the effects of a factorial combination of three factors: above-ground spatial configurea and below-ground connectivity with low- and high-elevation environmental stress. We test the two species (Scirpus and Spartina) on performance such as colonization, growth rate, as well as survival rate at one growth season.   

Abstract for published article:

"Ecological restoration is crucial to counteract the degradation of coastal ecosystems. Recent studies increasingly suggest that coastal restoration success can be amplified by harnessing positive interactions between individuals of foundation species, with clumped spatial designs as an easy-to-implement approach. However, positive interactions are strongly context-dependent, making it often difficult to tell a priori if clumped configurations would necessarily enhance survival and growth. Another uncertainty is that the relevance of below-ground spatial configuration remains unclear. Here, using the clonal plant species Scirpus mariqueter as the material, we conducted a full-factorial transplanting experiment mimicking short-term restoration of coastal vegetation to test for the effects of above-ground spatial pattern and below-ground (rhizome) connectance on restoration efficiency. An unexpected finding is that clumped above-ground spatial patterns and high below-ground rhizome connectance resulted in lower restoration efficiency for Scirpus, reflected by lower recolonization rates and vegetation cover. Such effect of spatial configuration was especially pronounced during the early post-transplantation stage, and was robust in both high and low wave-stressed conditions. Particularly, the recolonization rate in the clumped treatment was only about half of that in the random and regular treatments for Scirpus in the 4 weeks after the transplantation. The stark contrast between our results and previous work may be explained by the differences in plant traits that can substantially shape the net outcomes of plant-plant interactions. Our work highlights the necessity of considerations on biotic attributes for restoration designs by means of harnessing positive interactions, and advances the applications of facilitation theory in ecological restoration practices."


Information for raw data files

“Sitexy_data.xls” includes the location coordination of longitude and latitude

“Pattern_Connectance2019_data.xls” includes the raw data collection for full factorial experiments. Transect labels “1” and “2” indicate the high and low elevation setup. Plot numbers indicate the replication labels. Configuration describes aggregation status on the above-ground setup. And connection describes the below-ground setup on experimental treatments. “days” indicates the time and density imply the collected abundance of plants.

“dat_slope_f4.xls” includes the calculated growth rate of the plant with time going from 1~4 weeks.

‘data_slope_remain.xls” includes the obtained growth rate of the plant after 5 weeks. The slope was obtained from a general linear fitted model with R package.

“Expansion_data.xls” collected data for expansion area after one growing season of transplantation plots.

“Scripus_spartina.xls” includes the raw comparisons data on two species Scripus and Spartina. Note that this raw data only implement on above-ground treatments for two different elevations.

Usage notes

The deposition here includes raw data here, and R codes for analysis of the figures available from .


Programme of Strategic Scientific Alliances between China and The Netherlands (PSA), Award: 2016YFE0133700

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 41676084

Research Fund of the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment, Award: 22110401001001

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31770512