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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

Start of the flowering plants stage

The first flowering plants that begin to grow on our salt marsh are pioneer species like Salicornia sp (glasswort) or Spartina spp (cord grass). Migration must have occurred for anything at all to be present on the site. If their seeds are sufficiently undisturbed (i.e. if the mud has built up high enough) they will germinate and grow successfully. Small pioneer plants will begin to colonise the surface of the mud. Our halosere will have entered the first stage proper of primary succession which can be called colonisation.

The presence of a fledgling community on the site will affect the physical conditions. The roots of pioneer plants will help consolidate the mud that has already built up by binding it together. Their upper parts will help trap more sediment. (It's been estimated that Spartina can add 8-10cm of mud a year to a salt marsh). Primary producers will provide a source of food and places of refuge for animals. When individuals die their roots will remain in the mud helping to hold it together. Some parts of them will be resistant to decomposition and they will add humus to the mud.

There will be lots of bare ground available because not many species can survive the marginal conditions found at this early stage of community development. As time passes and the processes outlined above contribute to raising the height of the mud our community enters the next stage of succession. You can read about this by clicking the link.

<< Development: Continuing
Succession: Establishment >>

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