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Scientific Name: Acadian Estuary Marsh
Unique Identifier: CES201.579

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Summary: This brackish marsh system is found along mesohaline reaches of estuaries of the Gulf of Maine north to southern Newfoundland. Emergent and submergent vegetation characterizes this system. Dominance ranges from extensive grasslands to sparsely vegetated mudflats, all tidally influenced. Characteristic species include Carex paleacea, Crassula aquatica, Juncus arcticus, Lilaeopsis chinensis, Limosella australis, Samolus valerandi ssp. parviflorus (= Samolus parviflorus), Bolboschoenus robustus (= Schoenoplectus robustus), Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani, Spartina pectinata, and Triglochin maritima. These marshes grade into the salt marsh system at the mouth of estuaries. They are typically less extensive and more floristically depauperate than the marshes southward along the Atlantic Coast to Chesapeake Bay.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: Differences between marshes in Division 202 and Division 201 may be sufficient to distinguish them as separate systems; however, data on estuarine marshes in Division 201 (Laurentian-Acadian) is very sketchy and should be better documented before such a split is made.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES203.516 Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Fresh and Oligohaline Tidal Marsh
CES203.894 Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Brackish Tidal Marsh

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL004188 Schoenoplectus pungens Tidal Salt Marsh
CEGL004201 Typha angustifolia - Hibiscus moscheutos Salt Marsh
CEGL004473 Sagittaria subulata - Limosella australis Tidal Marsh
CEGL006027 Stuckenia pectinata - Potamogeton perfoliatus - (Zannichellia palustris) Tidal Marsh
CEGL006080 Amaranthus cannabinus Tidal Marsh
CEGL006337 Alnus (incana ssp. rugosa, serrulata) - Cornus amomum Tidal Shrub Swamp


Land Cover Class: Herbaceous Wetland
Spatial Pattern: Small patch
Natural/Seminatural: No
Vegetated ( > 10% vascular cover):
Upland: No
Wetland: Yes
Isolated Wetland: No

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Tidal / Estuarine  
Spartina (patens, alterniflora)  
Brackish (Mesohaline)  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Organic Peat (>40 cm)  
Mineral: W/ A-Horizon >10 cm  
Moderate (100-500 yrs) Persistence  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Amaranthus cannabinus G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
Limosella australis G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
Sagittaria subulata G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
Schoenoplectus pungens G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Spartina alterniflora G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Spartina patens G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Spartina pectinata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Typha angustifolia G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    

Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: MA, ME, NH
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: NB, NF, NS
Global Range: This system is found along the coastline of the Gulf of Maine, from Cape Cod north and east to southern Newfoundland, extending upstream in estuaries to the brackish water limit.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
201-Laurentian-Acadian C: Confident or certain
202-Central Interior and Appalachian C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
62 North Atlantic Coast Confident or certain
63 Northern Appalachian-Boreal Forest Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
65 Connecticut River Basin and Highlands Confident or certain
66 The North Woods Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 9292

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Element Description Edition Date: 14Jan2014
Element Description Author(s): S.C. Gawler and L.A. Sneddon

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

  • Angradi, T. R., S. M. Hagan, and K. W. Able. 2001. Vegetation type and the intertidal macroinvertebrate fauna of a brackish marsh: Phragmites vs. Spartina. Wetlands 21:75-92.

  • Barrett, N. E. 1989. Vegetation of the tidal wetlands of the lower Connecticut River: Ecological relationships of plant community-types with respect to flooding and habitat. M.S. thesis, University of Connecticut, Storrs. 209 pp.

  • Comer, P., D. Faber-Langendoen, R. Evans, S. Gawler, C. Josse, G. Kittel, S. Menard, C. Nordman, M. Pyne, M. Reid, M. Russo, K. Schulz, K. Snow, J. Teague, and R. White. 2003-present. Ecological systems of the United States: A working classification of U.S. terrestrial systems. NatureServe, Arlington, VA.

  • Faber-Langendoen, D., C. Hedge, M. Kost, S. Thomas, L. Smart, R. Smyth, J. Drake, and S. Menard. 2011. Assessment of wetland ecosystem condition across landscape regions: A multi-metric approach. NatureServe, Arlington VA. plus appendices.

  • 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.

  • Roberts, B. A., and A. Robertson. 1986. Salt marshes of Atlantic Canada: Their ecology and distribution. Canadian Journal of Botany 64:455-467.

  • 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.

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Data last updated: March 2019