Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Tidal Salt Marsh

This ecological system encompasses the intertidal marshes of the North Atlantic Coastal Plain from Chesapeake Bay north to Cape Cod, and sporadically to mid-coastal Maine. It includes a number of different vegetation types, including salt marshes, salt shrublands, and isolated salt "pannes" where only the most salt-tolerant species can grow. This system occurs on the bay (inner) side of barrier beaches and the outer mouth of tidal rivers where salinity is not much diluted by freshwater input. The typical salt marsh profile, from sea to land, features a low, regularly flooded marsh strongly dominated by saltmarsh cordgrass; a higher irregularly flooded marsh dominated by saltmeadow cordgrass and saltgrass; low hypersaline pannes characterized by saltwort and other species; and a salt scrub ecotone characterized by marsh-elder, groundsel-tree, and switchgrass. Salt marsh "islands" of slightly higher elevation also support eastern red-cedar. This system also includes the rare sea-level fens, which occur at the upper reaches of certain salt marshes where groundwater emerging from the uplands creates a distinctive freshwater peatland. For more information, see NatureServe Explorer.

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