Salt Marsh Ecosystems On Earth

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Introduction Salt marsh ecosystems are among the most productive ecosystems on earth and provide numerous ecosystem services (Ghorai & Sen, 2015; Charles & Dukes, 2009; Drociak, 2005). These services include biofiltration, gas regulation, carbon and nutrient retention, and physical protection of coastlines from storm surges and coastal flooding (Drociak, 2005; Sweat, 2009; FWC, 2016). Salt marshes act as nurseries and ensure habitat and resources for unique flora, fauna, and microbial communities (Ghorai & Sen, 2015), including commercially and recreationally important species such as horseshoe crabs, fish, and shellfish (FWC, 2016). Salt marsh plants also help trap nutrients, pollutants, and sediments, which improves water quality offshore (FWC, 2016). Many of the world’s salt marsh habitats have also been lost over the last several centuries to filling, draining, and diking (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, 2008). New England has lost an estimated one third of its salt marshes since 1777 (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, 2008; Bromberg and Bertness, 2005) as a result of diking, railroads and road construction, levee building and other purposes (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, 2008). While the diking and impoundment of the salt marshes created more area for development, the ecological structure, as well as the benefits and ecological services the salt marshes provided, were eliminated in the process (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, 2008; Thelen, 2009). This
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