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Classification
Scientific Name: Acadian Coastal Salt Marsh
Unique Identifier: CES201.578

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Summary: This system ranges from northern Massachusetts on the Gulf of Maine north to Newfoundland, along the immediate ocean shore and near estuary mouths, where salinity regime is polyhaline. Sometimes called "salt meadows," these marshes display strong graminoid dominance, with patchy forbs. Spartina patens and Spartina alterniflora are the major dominants. Characteristic associates include Puccinellia maritima, Juncus arcticus ssp. littoralis (= Juncus balticus), Plantago maritima var. juncoides (= Plantago juncoides), and Juncus gerardii. These marshes may be extensive where the local topography allows their development; they are generally not associated with sand beach and dune systems, being more characteristic of the primarily rocky portions of the Gulf of Maine coast. Where the coastal topography becomes more dissected, they are more commonly seen as a fairly narrow fringe along tidal shorelines. These marshes are typically less extensive and with some different floristic elements than the marshes southward along the Atlantic Coast from Cape Cod to Chesapeake Bay.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)


Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES203.519 Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Tidal Salt Marsh


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL004192 Spartina alterniflora / (Ascophyllum nodosum) Acadian/Virginian Zone Salt Marsh
CEGL004308 Salicornia (depressa, bigelovii, maritima) - Spartina alterniflora Salt Marsh
CEGL006006 Spartina patens - Distichlis spicata - (Juncus gerardii) Salt Marsh
CEGL006167 Ruppia maritima Acadian/Virginian Zone Temperate Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL006341 Ascophyllum nodosum - Fucus vesiculosus Tidal Algal Nonvascular Vegetation



Classifiers

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  
Graminoid  
Spartina (patens, alterniflora)  
Saltwater (Polyhaline)  

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

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Limonium carolinianum G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Agrostis stolonifera G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex paleacea G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Distichlis spicata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Juncus gerardii G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Spartina alterniflora G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Spartina patens G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: MA, ME, NH
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: LB, NB, NF, NS
Global Range: This system occurs along the coastline of the Gulf of Maine, from northern Massachusetts north and east to Newfoundland, with the northern border at the Strait of Belle Isle between Labrador and Newfoundland.

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): 9278

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
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).


References
  • Chapman, V. J. 1937. A note on the salt marshes of Nova Scotia. Rhodora 39:53-57.

  • 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.

  • Jevrejeva, S., J. C. Moore, and A. Grinsted. 2010. How will sea level respond to changes in natural and anthropogenic forcings by 2100? Geophysical Research Letters 37, L07703. DOI:10.1029/2010GL042947.

  • Kennish, M. J. 2001. Coastal salt marsh systems in the U.S.: A review of anthropogenic impacts. Journal of Coastal Research 17(3):731-748.

  • Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences and the National Wildlife Federation. 2012. The vulnerabilities of northeastern fish and wildlife habitats to sea level rise. A report to the Northeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative Manomet, Plymouth, MA.

  • 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.

  • Vermeer, M., and S. Rahmstorf. 2009. Global sea level linked to global temperature. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106:21527.


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