| SALT MARSHES
SUBSTRATE: Brackish, often waterlogged, largely anaerobic,
TOPOGRAPHY: Relatively flat, intertidal areas on,
or sloping up slightly from, permanent water edge.
VEGETATION / ALGAE: Nonwoody, salt-tolerant plants;
principal species are smooth cordgrass (on Atlantic side) and black
needlerush; above mean high water level are numerous vascular plant
species in addition to black needlerush; several hundred species
of benthic microalgae and phytoplankton; a few species of large,
multicellular seaweeds; occasional mangroves in warmer areas.
FAUNA: Abundant food and cover for resident and transient
animals; nursery grounds for many fish and shellfish of commercial
and recreational importance; many visiting birds and three exclusive
residentsclapper rails, long-billed
marsh wrens, and seaside sparrows; endangered Atlantic salt marsh
PROCESSES / DYNAMICS / ABIOTIC FACTORS: Rate of net
primary production of organic matter among highest of any global
ecosystem; aerial habitat above water dominated by marsh grasses
and insect / spider / bird food webs.
HUMAN IMPACTS: Little alteration before 1940s; most
extensive impact has been from water impoundment and ditching for
mosquito control; dumping of domestic and industrial liquid and
solid waste, including dredged materials, is also a serious threat.
ANIMALS AND PLANTS NATIVE TO ECOSYSTEM: List of selectable
plants native to the Salt Marshes ecosystem, with detailed descriptions
and pictures on each.