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Salt Marshes
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Salt Marshes -biotic perspectives

Salt Marshes -biotic perspectives

Maia McGuire, PhD

Florida Sea Grant Extension Agent

Slide 2

What is a salt marsh?

What is a salt marsh?

A community of emerged halophytic vegetation in areas alternately inundated and drained by tidal action.

Expansive inter- or supratidal areas occupied by rooted emergent vascular macrophytes and a variety of epiphytes and epifauna.

Emerged: sticking out of the water; Halophytic: salt-loving; Inundated: flooded; macrophyte: plant thats large enough to see; epiphyte: plant growing on another organism but not a parasite; epifauna: animal version of epiphyte

Slide 3

Where are salt marshes found?

Where are salt marshes found?

Along intertidal shore of estuaries

Flat, protected waters

Extensive from Maine-Florida, along Gulf coast from Florida-Texas

In FL, most abundant north of the freeze line (70% of states salt marsh)

Slide 4

The salt marsh community

The salt marsh community

Plants

Marsh grasses

Associated halophytic (salt-tolerant) plants

Animals

Permanent residents

Visitors

Slide 5

Salt marsh grasses

Salt marsh grasses

Spartina alterniflora

Smooth cord grass

Juncus roemerianus

Black needle rush

Cladium mariscoides

Swamp sawgrass

Spartina patens

Salt meadow cord grass

Slide 6

Associated plants

Associated plants

Many are succulent

Exceptions include saltgrass

Many are edible (saltwort, glasswort, sea purslane)

Form transitional zone between salt marsh and maritime hammock

Slide 7

Salt marsh zonation

Salt marsh zonation

IntertidalSpartina, Juncus

High marsh (above mean high water)Distichlis spicata, Batis maritima, Salicornia spp., Borrichia sp., Sueda linearis, Limonium carolinanum

Upper edge of high marshIva frutescens, Baccharis halmifolia

Marsh-mangrove transition zone

Slide 8

Resident animals

Resident animals

Littorina irrorata

Marsh periwinkle (snail)

Crabs

Fiddler crabs (Uca spp.)

Marsh crabs (Sesarma spp.)

Geukensia demissa

Ribbed mussel

Slide 9

Tidal Marsh Visitors

Tidal Marsh Visitors

Birds

Crabs

Shrimp

Fish

Diamondback terrapin

Slide 10

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