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Succession is concerned with community development over time. Find out more in our general section on succession.

Salt Marsh

Succession in a Salt Marsh


With species like Spartina growing away and trapping sediment the mud height increases. Consequently the muddy shore spends more time emersed (out of the water). Conditions become suitable for more species and they migrate to the area and begin to grow as well. Examples of species that may appear at this time are Puccinellia maritima (salt marsh grass) and Aster tripolium (sea aster). All species (including the pioneers) start to do better. They will grow bigger and they will exist in greater abundance. The vegetation is becoming "closed" forming a continuous carpet over the ground and there is much less bare ground available. Our community has entered the next stage of succession: Establishment.

There will be a general increase in number of species at this stage. Seeds of flowering plants from all over the salt marsh will be dispersed by water currents all over the marsh. Many of them will fail to germinate should they find themselves at a site at at this early stage of community development. Some of them will germinate and be found as seedlings at the establishment stage but will not survive to maturity.

As time passes the height of the mud increases. There are more species taking up more space and less bare ground and the community enters the next stage of development. Find out about this by clicking the link.

<< Succession: Start of the flowering plants stage
Succession: Competition >>

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