Alternate Title

Elevational Variations in the Lowest Limit of Spartina Colonization in a Virginia Salt Marsh

Document Type

Short Communication


Elevations of lowest colonization of smooth cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora, were surveyed along the edge of a juvenile salt marsh at Wallops Island, Virginia. This lowest limit of Spartina varied over one-third of the local mean tidal range, with lowest occurrences between mean low water and mean low water neaps. Four geographical factors appeared to influence the lowest limit of Spartina: (1) tidal scouring in areas where tidal channels were constricted, (2) scalloping of the marsh edge over a sloping substrate, (3) patterns of historical development of the marsh, and (4) ice scouring of previously colonized Spartina over winter. Marsh edge scallops occurred only in areas of former Spartina thatch islands, and probably resulted from lateral spreading of those islands.

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