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What is a salt marsh?
A salt marsh is a type of marsh that is halfway between land and salty
water (e.g.: sloughs, bays, estuaries). It is taken over by salt tolerant
plants, and salt marshes have sometimes been treated as
"wastelands". Salt marshes are one of the most biologically useful
habitats on the planet, rivaling tropical rainforests. The daily tidal
surges bring in nutrients, which tend to settle in roots of the plants
within the salt marsh. The natural chemical activity of salty water
and the tendency of algae to bloom in the shallow unshaded water
also allow for great biodiversty.
How are they formed?
They are formed by the deposition of mud around salt-tolerant
vegetation. This vegetation must tolerate being covered by seawater
as well as being exposed to the air. It also traps mud as the tide
comes in and out. This helps build up the salt marsh. Salt marshes
usually have a network of creeks and drainage channels by which
tidal waters enter and leave the marsh.
What are the pioneer species?
They are the first organisms to start the chain of events leading to a
livable ecosystem. Since uncolonised land may have thin, poor
quality soils with few nutrients, pioneer species are often hearty
plants with adaptations such as long roots. These species will die and
break down after some time, making new soil for secondary
succession, and nutrients for small fish and plants in water. Pioneer
species are often grasses such as marram grass, which grows on
sand dunes. In more rocky and damp conditions, they are usually
Vegetation succession is...
... the orderly process of one plant community gradually or quickly
can result from the developmental changes in the ecosystem
or from the disturbances such as wind, fire, volcanic activity,
insects and disease or harvesting
Examples of salt marshes are...
Burnham Overy Staithe, Norfolk