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MarineGEO Salt Marsh Habitat Monitoring Protocol

online resource
posted on 2021-07-09, 19:25 authored by Jack Olson, Dennis Whigham, J. Patrick MegonigalJ. Patrick Megonigal, Matthew B. Ogburn, Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network, MarineGEO
"MarineGEO Salt Marsh Habitat Monitoring Protocol" provides an overview of MarineGEO’s standardized methodology for estimating key ecological parameters in salt marshes including plant species composition, above-ground primary productivity, infaunal and epifaunal diversity and abundance, consumption rates, and sediment organic matter. Also provided are site selection and establishment procedures and an integrated workflow. Marsh vegetation surveys are conducted during the period of annual maximum standing biomass in the late summer or early fall. Prior to data collection, marsh transects must be selected and plots established for permanent sampling.

Coastal salt marshes are biogenic wetland habitats defined by regular inundation with salt water from tides. Plant species diversity is typically low and comprised of salt and submersion-tolerant species. Salt marshes provide a variety of services including erosion protection, essential habitats for fish and invertebrates, nutrient filtering, and carbon sequestration. Principal threats include coastal development, accelerating sea level rise, and pollution from land-based sources. Salt marshes have a near-global distribution although they are most prevalent along protected shorelines in the mid to high latitudes. Given their widespread occurrence and position at the land-sea interface, salt marshes are ideal ecosystems to examine responses to global change.

We thank Merryl Alber, Matt Ferner, and Christine Angelini for thoughtful feedback on the initial draft of these protocols.

Core protocols below are required for MarineGEO partners:
• Marsh plant species cover and allometry
• Saltmarsh fauna
• Sampling Event & Environmental Monitoring (
• Sediment organic matter (
• Predation Assay (

Recommended protocols:
• Beach seine (, Trawl, and/or Visual census (


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