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Slide 1

Coastal Ecosystems: Salt Marshes and Mangroves

Coastal Ecosystems: Salt Marshes and Mangroves

Marine Biology

Dr. Ouida Meier

Slide 2

Factors Driving Coastal Ecosystems

Factors Driving Coastal Ecosystems

Latitude

temperature

light, seasonality

Tidal cycles

amplitude

frequency

Wave energy

Degree of riverine input

freshwater input

alluvial sediments and deposition

turbidity

Slide 3

Factors Driving Coastal Ecosystems

Factors Driving Coastal Ecosystems

Geological characteristics

rock

sand

sediment

Hydrological characteristics

nearshore currents

transport

Continental proximity

nutrient input

anthropogenic impacts

(cont.)

Slide 4

Recap: Rocky Intertidal

Recap: Rocky Intertidal

Our example (Pacific Northwest): high latitude, so

Cold Pacific waters, strong seasonality

Tidal cycle: high amplitude, semi-diurnal

Wave energy high

Freshwater input riverine characteristics modified by bay / estuary

Geology: rocky cliffs, interspersed w/sandy beach

Hydrology: strong nearshore currents & transport

Continental edge, input via interaction with terrestrial systems

Slide 5

Salt Marsh Ecosystems

Salt Marsh Ecosystems

Our example (southeastern U.S.: Gulf and Atlantic coasts): moderate latitude, so

Warm Atlantic and warmer Gulf and Gulf stream waters, moderated seasonality

Tidal cycle: low amplitude

Wave energy low

Freshwater input often critical deltaic riverine input can result in extensive marsh systems, abundant alluvial sediment input. Salt accumulation a challenge.

Geology: long-term alluvial sediment accumulation

Hydrology: nearshore currents & transport important

Continental edge, nutrient input via runoff, rivers

Slide 6

Salt marsh and tidal channels in coastal Georgia

Salt marsh and tidal channels in coastal Georgia

Slide 7

Plants of the Salt Marsh Community

Plants of the Salt Marsh Community

Spartina alterniflora marsh cordgrass

height depends on riverine or tidal flushing

export of dried mats during winter storms

exclude salt from roots

Salicornia a succulent

Salt pans

Fresher water and soils / higher ground: other grasses (Spartina patens), rushes (Juncus romerianus), sedges

Zonation based on topography, inundation of freshwater, fresh/salt fluctuation, tidal flushing, relative stresses, anoxia of soils, latitudinal gradient (e.g., east coast U.S.).

Slide 8

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