California cord grass

Christopher Janousek, Bruce Dugger

Latin name: Spartina foliosa

California cord grass is a key tidal marsh species along the Pacific coast from Baja California to the San Francisco Bay area. It is important for marsh productivity and provides nesting habitat for two subspecies of endangered Ridgway's Rails (a near-threatened species of bird). Chris Janousek, Bruce Dugger, and colleagues at the USGS have studied the productivity and decomposition of this and other common tidal marsh species along the west coast. Their data help inform models of tidal marsh vulnerability to sea-level rise and carbon dynamics in coastal ecosystems. 

Did you know? Spartina foliosa is probably one of the most inundation-tolerant tidal marsh species along the west coast, so it may be less vulnerable to sea-level rise than other marsh species. Light-footed ridgeway rails nest in S. foliosa in southern California.


Janousek et al. 2016. Potential effects of sea-level rise on plant productivity: species-specific responses in northeast Pacific tidal marshes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 548:111-125.