Location:

Gulf Coasts Salt Marshes. Florida, United States
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Most vegetative communities cannot grow where waves are strong, but irregularly flooded communities thrive on low-energy coasts.
Typically, the communities are composed of 90% grasses and grass-like plants, 5% woody plants and trees and 5% forbs.

Two grass-like species play unique dominating roles:

1. Smooth cord grass (Spartan altering Lora) forms a border along open water in salt marshes. On a broad gentle slope, smooth cord grass occupies a monos-pecific band 1 to 10 meters wide; greater slopes lead to mixing of smooth cord grass and needle rush at upper elevations.
The entire needle rush zone is flooded very irregularly - higher elevation zones flood only in spring tides and storms.

Other common vegetative species include: salt meadow cord grass, giant cord grass, salt grass, saltwort, three-square, leafy sedge, sea lavender, arrow leaf, Roseau cane, saw grass, bullwhip, and blue flag.
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 White-bellied Mangrove Snake
White-bellied Mangrove Snake
Mangrove Golden Whistler
Mangrove Golden Whistler
Mangrove Monitor Lizard
Mangrove Monitor Lizard




Mangrove Animals

Mangrove Forests in Florida is home to many different types of animals. Such as manatees, turtles, fish, monitor lizards. It is also the nesting grounds for over a hundred species of birds. Florida mangroves shelter endangered species like the hawksbill turtle, bald eagles, and american crocodiles.

Salt Marsh Harvest mouse
Salt Marsh Harvest mouse
Periwinkles, the spiral-shelled snails
Periwinkles, the spiral-shelled snails
 salt marsh harvest mouse
salt marsh harvest mouse
DIAMONDBACK TERRAPIN
DIAMONDBACK TERRAPIN


Salt Marsh Animals

Salt marshes are home to a wide variety of animals. Some of these animals include marsh deer, blue crabs, stone crabs, hermit crabs, mud crab, fiddler crab, horn shell, mussel, grass shrimp, American eel, gulf killifish, and mosquitofish. The area is also home to a diversity of fish. The American alligator is the only reptile with significant distribution in Gulf Coast salt marshes, but also found are the Mississippi diamondback tarrapin. Popular mammal species in the marsh are Louisiana muskrat and marsh rabbits. Other than that there are over 60 different kinds of bird species.

Human Impacts

Human impacts on Salt Marshes and Mangrove Swamps have been both positive and negative. DDT practices raised water levels and upset the mosquito breeding cycle, which helped make salt marshes more habitable. Tourism and space industries impounded 15,000 acres of salt march. From 1948 to 198, Tampa Bay lost 40% of its salt marsh cover. Human impact on the Everglades is substantial. Rapid population growth in southern Florida requires massive supplies of freshwater. Water for human consumption is derived from pumping ground water and diversion of surface water via numerous canals. The net consequence is diminished flow of surface water through the Everglades drainage system. Surface water in the Everglades is naturally nutrient poor. However, upstream agricultural runoff delivers large amounts of fertilizer, mostly nitrogen and phosphorus, to the Everglades. Saw grass prairie has converted to cattail marsh, where this has occurred, with harmful effects on organisms and water quality.

Climate

*Mild subtropical climate influences the distinctive composition of slat marsh communities.
*Many subtropical and tropical types of vegetation, especially mangroves, are sensitive to the degree, duration and frequency of low temp events.
*More than half of Florida's salt marshes are dominated by Needlerush vegetation.
*Droughts can also have adverse effects on the composition and structure of salt marsh communities depending on the severity of the drought. Droughts can sometimes lead to death of plants.
*Freshwater from the upland drains into coastal slat marshes
*Salt marshes occur all along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts. *In Florida, salt marshes are most abundant on coastlines above the winter freeze line (where they do not have to compete with mangrove wetlands)
*10% of Florida's salt marshes are found in the Indian River Lagoon.