Spartina Species Zonation along the Altamaha River Estuary
MetadataShow full item record
Changes in freshwater inflow can cause changes in the distribution and diversity of marsh vegetation in estuarine habitats. In the fall of 2002 bankside vegetation was surveyed along the 24 km length of the Altamaha River estuary (n= 14 sites). Sites were quantified for multiple plant and edaphic parameters, including plant density, height, and tiller diameter. In this paper we present the characteristics of the bankside marsh vegetation as they change along the estuarine salinity gradient, and evaluate the use of a proportional relationship between two marsh grasses, Spartina cynosuroides and S. alterniflora, as a way to identify a transition line between salt and brackish marsh communities. S. alterniflora densities were greatest at the mouth of the estuary and decreased upstream and S. cynosuroides densities showed the opposite pattern, but there was not a well defined transition between these two plant communities. The percent S. cynosuroides cover along the estuary is a potentially useful way to document the response of the estuary to changing amounts of freshwater inflow.