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Salt marshes

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: DTE


Context: More than 90% of the world’s salt marshes may be lost to sea level rise by the end of the century, according to a study by scientists from the Marine Biological Laboratory.


Feature Description
Definition Salt marshes are coastal wetlands that are flooded and drained by salt water brought in by the tides.
Location They are found in intertidal zones along coastlines, usually in protected areas such as estuaries or bays.
Vegetation They are dominated by grasses and other salt-tolerant plants such as sedges, cordgrass, rushes, and mangroves.
Soil They have nutrient-rich soils that are often anoxic (depleted of oxygen) due to high levels of organic matter.
Ecological function They are important habitats for many species of fish, birds, and other wildlife, and provide valuable ecosystem services such as erosion control and water filtration.
Threats They are threatened by sea level rise, coastal development, pollution, and climate change.
‘Coastal squeeze’ The movement of salt marshes is obstructed by sea level rise, anthropogenic activities and geographical factors.


E.g., a seawall that protects a home from inundation will prevent a wetland from naturally migrating to higher ground.