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Salt Marshes

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Kylie Pepper

on 6 December 2012

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Transcript of Salt Marshes

photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli Presented by the Coastal Protection Organization Salt Marshes Coastal Protection Organization What is a "Salt Marsh" - Characterized by herbs, grasses, and shrubs that are drained by tidal action
- Found at higher tidal levels
- Located in estuaries along coast
- Flat/gently sloping shores
- Nutrient rich sediments
- Nourished by rivers which provide sediments and nutrients Biome Distribution Sites to See! Abiotic Factors Biotic Factors Birds Biotic Factors Salt Marsh Grasses Our goals:
- Educate the public about the value of coastal estuaries, marshes, and swamps
- Allow students with the opportunity to visit coastal biomes
- Organize community projects to restore coastal biomes that have been destroyed
- Enforce laws that benefit the species that live in these ecosystems
- Keep our waterways clean! - Right here on the East Coast!
- Broad, flat expanse of beautiful herbaceous grass and shrubby plants
- Incredible arrangement of channels leading to tidal creeks
- A great family activity: going Marsh Mucking on the mud flats
- Vast open areas of shallow pools to see the amazing organisms
- Small mountain valley near Saltville, Smyth County Natural Value - Fluctuating salinity
- Temperature fluctuations
- Nutrient fluctuations
- Tidal effects: daily, seasonal, and storm events
- Salinity varies with the height of tide/rainfall
- Heavy rain increases freshwater runoff
- Temperatures rarely dip below freezing
- Rainfall largely in winter
- Usually winter rain/summer drought
- 90% of average precipitation falls during November-April
- Warmest month is August/coolest month is December

Soil - Incoming freshwater carries a heavy load of silt- fertilizes marsh soil
- Heavy silt can smother plants/interfere with respiration of marsh animals
- Silting produces a soft marsh substrate- "pluff mud" Limiting factors
- In the middle/high marsh, competition among the plant species governs zonal boundaries
- lower marsh limiting factors = physiological tolerances for submersion in salt water - Sparrows
- Shorebirds
- Rails
- Gulls Invertebrates - Insects
- Crustaceans
- Mollusks
- Worms Mammals - Raccoons
- Mink
- Muskrats
- Voles Reptiles - Diamondback Terrapin
- Salt Marsh Water Snake - Smooth cord grass
- Salt Hay
- Salt Grass
- Phragmites
- Common Reed Salt Marsh Flowers - Sea lavender
- Salt Marsh Ox-Eye
- Seashore Mallow
- Perennial Salt Marsh Aster Salt Marsh Shrubs - Marsh Elder
- Poison Ivy
- Grounsel Tree Endangered Species - Bleeding Savannah Sparrow: populations plummeted because of habitat degradation
- Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse: extensive habitat loss and degradation Biotic Factors Continued Relationships between Organisms - Littorina, melampsis, and other insects migrate up and down stalks to escape tides and predation (commensalism)
- Marsh plants provide cover for organisms which reduces predation (commensalism)
- Mud crabs dig burrows to bury themselves in, and shrimp live there too (commensalism) Adaptations of Organisms - Must grow in soil with high salt content
Upper portions of plants are above the water even in high tide
- Succulence: plants have fleshy stems and leaves
- Water storing tissues
- Stomata are closed to reduce water loss
- Organisms adapt to fluctuating water/oxygen levels
- Snails seal their shells during dry periods
- Great land crab has inflated chambers which help respiratory exchange Human Effect - Nursery grounds for more than half the species of commercially important fish
- The species are still abundant in the winter (bluefish/flounder)
- Fisheries of oyster, scallops, clams, eals, and smelt located in marshes
- Remove inorganic compounds/heavy metals from polluted groundwater
- Provide protection against hurricane
- Attractive biome - More than 1/2 of the nation's wetlands have been lost due to filling & development for housing, industry, & agriculture
- 215 million acres in the US has diminished to 90 million
- Ditching to control mosquitoes
- Building canals for flood control
- Pollution (petroleum, industrial output)
- Diking to create impoundments Help the Coastal Project Organization Take Action! Salt marshes are disregarded as valuable resources. Over half of our salt marshes have been destroyed. Most of the destruction was due to frivilous things such as ditching for mosquito control and diking to create impoundments. The marshes are filled, and the organisms, vegetation, flora, fauna, microorganisms, and all other factors are destroyed. After this biome is destroyed, it is extremely difficult to restore. The plants and animals have adapted to the tidal conditions. The soil is silty and porous enough to allow evaporation. It is extremely difficult to repair what has been destroyed.

To avoid this, we are proposing a law called:
The Salt Marsh Peace Treaty
"Help us, help it, help you"
This treaty proposes to ban all activity that involves filling in Salt Marshes. No shopping mall, farm, or apartment complex could be more important than conserving one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. The plants provide nourishment for all of the species that would lack a home if their ecosystem was destroyed. Many fishing companies would go out of business and our water would be much more polluted without the plants that remove toxins. We want legislation to force any group of individuals or organization who attemps to destroty Salt Marsh to pay a $100,000 fine and have members of the organization participate in community service efforts to restore damaged Salt Marshes across the country.

We need your donations!
We need donations to help replenish the Salt Marsh biomes that have been destroyed because of land filling. Many of these ecosystems have less rich species diversity because the soil is stuck in a compact form from abandoned agriculture sites. With your donations, we can fix the soil and reintroduce organisms adapted to salt water back into this environment, allowing it to thrive.

- Root systems of salt marsh plants create dense mats of detritus
- Detrital materials give invertebraes, birds, fish, larva, eggs, and other organisms habitats
- Bacteria and fungi decompose organic matter
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