Abstract for F035


Salt Marsh
Marais sal├ęs


Salt Marsh is a wetland that has shallow water and levels that usually fluctuate due primarily to tides along the coast or changes in water depth in depressions. Coastal salt marshes are primarily intertidal; that is, they are found in areas at least occasionally inundated by high tide but not flooded during low tide, including estuaries, lagoons, and the lee side of barrier islands. The vegetation is comprised of emergent aquatic macrophytes, especially saline or halophytic species, chiefly graminoids such as rushes, reeds, grasses and sedges, and shrubs and other herbaceous species such as broad-leaved emergent macrophytes, floating-leaved and submergent species (aquatic vegetation), and macroscopic algae. The vegetation is usually arranged in distinct zones of parallel patterns in response to gradients of tidal flooding frequency and duration, water chemistry or disturbance, sometimes described simply as "high marsh" (limits of high tide) and "low marsh" (intertidal marsh). Salt marshes have gradients that include barren salt flats at the tidal edge, rushes, and then halophytic herbs and grasses at the outer edge. Daily drawdowns may expose mudflats containing a sparse mix of pioneering herb and grass species. Salt marsh chemistry is dominated by salinity. Salinity levels vary depending on a complex set of factors, including frequency of inundation, rainfall, soil texture, freshwater influence, fossil salt deposits, and other factors. The lower limits of salinity are defined as at least 0.5 ppt, below which it is considered freshwater.

Source: Faber-Langendoen, D., T. Keeler-Wolf, D. Meidinger, C. Josse, A. Weakley, D. Tart, G. Navarro, B. Hoagland, S. Ponomarenko, J.-P. Saucier, G. Fults, E. Helmer. 2014. Classification and description of world formation types. Part I (Introduction) and Part II (Description of world formations). Hierarchy Revisions Working Group, Federal Geographic Data Committee, FGDC Secretariat, U.S. Geological Survey. Reston, VA, and NatureServe, Arlington, VA.

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