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Schoenoplectus pungens - Eleocharis parvula Salt Marsh
Translated Name: Common Threesquare - Dwarf Spikerush Salt Marsh
Common Name: Coastal Salt Pond Marsh
Unique Identifier: CEGL006398
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association encompasses the brackish marshes of coastal salt ponds of the northeastern Atlantic Coast. Coastal salt ponds are ponds separated from the ocean by a barrier beach. They generally form when a lagoon or bay is closed off from regular tidal flooding by a sand spit or other barrier. Salinity depends on the length of time since enclosure of the lake/pond; freshwater input from precipitation and overland flow dilutes the enclosed seawater resulting in meso- to oligohaline conditions. Depending on the distance from the ocean, saltwater input is infrequent and a result of tidal breaches or storm overwash, although there can be some saltwater seepage across the barrier beach. Shorelines usually have gentle slopes that magnify gradients of salinity and saturation. Depending on local water balance, ponds can draw down to a certain degree exposing mud or sand flats. Substrate ranges from sand to mud to peat. Vegetation of coastal salt ponds is highly variable both spatially and temporally given the variable nature of the habitat and processes affecting it. Although not constant, vegetation zonation often occurs along shores of coastal salt ponds along gradients of salinity and flooding or saturation. Dominant species can be variable depending on local conditions but are generally characterized by Schoenoplectus pungens, Eleocharis parvula, and/or Spartina patens, Spartina pectinata, or Panicum virgatum. Where salinity is less Typha angustifolia can be common. Mudflat habitat can develop in lower areas that tend to be exposed later in the season with Eleocharis parvula, Eleocharis halophila, Eleocharis flavescens, Schoenoplectus maritimus, Crassula aquatica, Spergularia salina, Cyperus filicinus, or others. In higher zones, vegetation can be similar to high salt marsh habitat; Panicum virgatum, Spartina patens, or Spartina pectinata can be characteristic, plus Schoenoplectiella smithii, Echinochloa walteri, Cladium mariscoides, Distichlis spicata, or Chenopodium spp. Species found farther south include Ptilimnium capillaceum, Pluchea odorata, Schoenoplectus americanus, Hibiscus moscheutos, plus scattered individuals of Iva frutescens or Baccharis halimifolia. Ponds often support aquatic plants that are tolerant of brackish/saline conditions, such as Ruppia maritima, Stuckenia pectinata, Potamogeton perfoliatus, or Zannichellia palustris, plus some marine algal species. Several associations may be warranted in these highly variable systems; collection of further data will likely support the division of more associations.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low - Poorly Documented
Classification Comments: This association encompasses a highly variable and shifting vegetation mosaic in a variable and dynamic habitat. Several associations may be warranted; collection of further data will likely support the division of this type into more associations.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.5 - Salt Marsh
Division 2.C.5.Nb - North American Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Salt Marsh
Macrogroup North American Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Salt Marsh
Group Atlantic & Gulf Coastal High Salt Marsh
Alliance Eastern Saltmeadow Cordgrass High Salt Marsh

This is the revised vegetation hierarchy. For more information see Classification Sources and usnvc.org.

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL004188 Schoenoplectus pungens Tidal Salt Marsh
CEGL006150 Panicum virgatum - Spartina patens - Carex silicea Salt Marsh
CEGL006167 Ruppia maritima Acadian/Virginian Zone Temperate Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL006342 Spartina patens - Eleocharis parvula Marsh



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Related Subnational Community Units
These data are subject to substantial ongoing revision and may be out of date for some states.
In the U.S., contact the state Heritage Program for the most complete and up-to-date information at: http://www.natureserve.org/natureserve-network.
Information from programs in other jurisdictions will be posted when they are made available.
Subnation Concept Name Relationship to Standard Confidence Reference
Maine Brackish tidal marsh Broader   Gawler 2002
Massachusetts Coastal Salt Pond Community Intersects   Swain and Kearsley 2001
Massachusetts Salt Marsh Intersects   Swain and Kearsley 2001
New Hampshire Coastal salt pond meadow marsh Equivalent   Sperduto 2000
New Jersey Common Threesquare - Dwarf Spikerush Herbaceous Vegetation Equivalent Certain Walz et al. 2008
New York Coastal salt pond Equivalent   Edinger et al. 2002


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Coastal Salt Pond
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Rawinski, T. 1984a. Natural community description abstract - southern New England calcareous seepage swamp. Unpublished report. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA. 6 pp.
Related Concept Name: Coastal Salt Pond Marsh
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Rawinski, T. 1984a. Natural community description abstract - southern New England calcareous seepage swamp. Unpublished report. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA. 6 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES203.519 Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Tidal Salt Marsh
CES203.892 Atlantic Coastal Plain Northern Salt Pond Marsh


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: GNR (01Dec1997)
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MA, ME, NH, NJpotentially occurs, NY, RI
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: Coastal salt ponds occur in a limited geomorphological setting in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Long Island, New York.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Hot Continental Division
Province Name: Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Oceanic) Province
Province Code: 221 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Lower New England Section
Section Code: 221A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Subtropical Division
Province Name: Outer Coastal Plain Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 232 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain Section
Section Code: 232A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Vegetation of coastal salt ponds is highly variable both spatially and temporally given the variable nature of the habitat and processes affecting it. Although not constant, vegetation zonation often occurs along shores of coastal salt ponds along gradients of salinity and flooding or saturation. Dominant species can be variable depending on local conditions but are generally characterized by Schoenoplectus pungens, Eleocharis parvula, and/or Spartina patens, Spartina pectinata, or Panicum virgatum. Where salinity is less Typha angustifolia can be common. Mud flat habitat can develop in lower areas that tend to be exposed later in the season with Eleocharis parvula, Eleocharis halophila, Eleocharis flavescens, Schoenoplectus maritimus, Crassula aquatica, Spergularia salina (= Spergularia marina), or others. In higher zones, vegetation can be similar to high salt marsh habitat; Panicum virgatum, Spartina patens, or Spartina pectinata can be characteristic, plus Schoenoplectiella smithii (= Schoenoplectus smithii), Echinochloa walteri, Cladium mariscoides, Distichlis spicata, and Chenopodium spp. Species found farther south include Ptilimnium capillaceum, Pluchea odorata, Schoenoplectus americanus, Hibiscus moscheutos, plus scattered individuals of Iva frutescens or Baccharis halimifolia. Ponds often support aquatic plants that are tolerant of brackish/saline conditions, such as Ruppia maritima, Stuckenia pectinata (= Potamogeton pectinatus), Potamogeton perfoliatus, or Zannichellia palustris, plus some marine algal species.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Eleocharis parvula GNR Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Schoenoplectus pungens GNR Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Spartina patens GNR Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: Coastal salt ponds are ponds separated from the ocean by a barrier beach. They generally form when a lagoon or bay is closed off from regular tidal flooding by a sand spit or other barrier. However, some ponds have a permanent, often artificially maintained, inlet/outlet and thus have regular saltwater exchange. Salinity depends on the length of time since enclosure of the lake/pond; freshwater input from precipitation and overland flow dilutes the enclosed seawater resulting in meso- to oligohaline conditions. Depending on the distance from the ocean, saltwater input is infrequent and a result of tidal breaches or storm overwash, although there can be some saltwater seepage across the barrier beach. Shorelines usually have gentle slopes that magnify gradients of salinity and saturation. Depending on local water balance, ponds can draw down to a certain degree exposing mud or sand flats. Substrate ranges from sand to mud to peat. These ponds occur in glaciated areas in moraine or outwash deposits.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Coastal salt ponds are adjacent to ocean shores and result from the enclosure of a lagoon or bay by a sand spit or barrier. Salinity fluctuates relative to the proportion of freshwater input from precipitation and overland flow and saltwater input from tidal breaches and storm overwash. Fluctuations can be a gradual lessening of salinity with time since enclosure where there is sufficient and continual freshwater influence or a gradual increase in salinity following evaporative concentration. Rapid changes in salinity can result from storm breaches or overwash.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): L.A. Sneddon
Element Description Edition Date: 13Jan2009
Element Description Author(s): S.L. Neid

Ecological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).


References
  • Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boston, MA.

  • Edinger, G. J., A. L. Feldmann, T. G. Howard, J. J. Schmid, E. Eastman, E. Largay, and L. A. Sneddon. 2008a. Vegetation classification and mapping at Gateway National Recreation Area. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2008/107. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA. 283 pp.

  • Edinger, G. J., D. J. Evans, S. Gebauer, T. G. Howard, D. M. Hunt, and A. M. Olivero, editors. 2014a. Ecological communities of New York state. Second edition. A revised and expanded edition of Carol Reschke's ecological communities of New York state. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.

  • Elliman, T. 2003. Boston Harbor Islands plant communities. Report submitted to Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, Westborough.

  • Gawler, S. C. 2002. Natural landscapes of Maine: A guide to vegetated natural communities and ecosystems. Maine Natural Areas Program, Department of Conservation, Augusta, ME.

  • Gawler, S. C., and A. Cutko. 2010. Natural landscapes of Maine: A classification of vegetated natural communities and ecosystems. Maine Natural Areas Program, Department of Conservation, Augusta.

  • Island Alliance. 2001. Boston Harbor Islands: Grape Island facts. [www.bostonislands.org/grap_factsheet.asp]

  • Karanaukas, M. 2001. A survey of the aquatic invertebrates of the Boston Harbor Islands. Report to the Island Alliance, National Park Service, and the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.

  • Largay, E. F., and L. A. Sneddon. 2017. Vegetation mapping and classification of Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2017/1529. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO.

  • Lundgren, J. 2000. Lower New England - Northern Piedmont Ecoregion Forest Classification. The Nature Conservancy, Conservation Science, Boston, MA. 72 pp.

  • Lundgren, J. A. 1998. Natural communities of coastal Massachusetts: Inventory and assessment. Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Boston, MA.

  • NRCS [Natural Resources Conservation Service]. 2001b. Soil survey of Gateway National Recreation Area, New York and New Jersey. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and USDI National Park Service, Gateway National Recreation Area in partnership with Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station and New York City Soil and Water Conservation District.

  • Rawinski, T. 1984a. Natural community description abstract - southern New England calcareous seepage swamp. Unpublished report. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA. 6 pp.

  • Reschke, C. 1990. Ecological communities of New York State. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Latham, NY. 96 pp.

  • Sneddon, L. A., Zaremba, R. E., and M. Adams. 2010. Vegetation classification and mapping at Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts. Natural Resources Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2010/147. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA. 481 pp. [http://biology.usgs.gov/npsveg/caco/cacorpt.pdf]

  • Sperduto, D. D., and W. F. Nichols. 2004. Natural communities of New Hampshire: A guide and classification. New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau, DRED Division of Forests and Lands, Concord. 242 pp.

  • Swain, P. C., and J. B. Kearsley. 2014. Classification of the natural communities of Massachusetts. Version 2.0. Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Westborough, MA. [http://www.mass.gov/nhesp/http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/natural-heritage/natural-communities/classification-of-natural-communities.html]

  • Thorne-Miller, B., M. M. Harlin, G. B. Thursby, M. M. Brady-Campbell, and B. A. Dworetsky. 1983. Variations in the distribution and biomass of submerged macrophytes in five coastal lagoons in Rhode Island, USA. Botanica Marina 26:231-242.

  • Walz, K. S., K. H. Anderson, L. C. Kelly, A. G. Windisch, and M. C. Wong. 2008. New Jersey ecological community crosswalk: A tool for the identification of habitats across jurisdictional boundaries. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry, Office of Natural Lands Management, Natural Heritage Program, Trenton.

  • Zaremba, R. E. 1999. Memorandum: Basic notes on coastal salt ponds. Written summer 1999 for M. Jordan, Long Island Chapter, The Nature Conservancy.


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