Ecology of Salt Marshes: An Introduction
Salt marshes are fascinating yet frustrating places in which to study ecology—fascinating because of the wealth of physical and biological interactions present in this blend of terrestrial, aquatic, and marine communities, yet frustrating because of the many methodological problems peculiar to tidal communities. Quantitative measurement of flows of energy and matter, simple and straightforward in many other ecosystems, becomes more difficult in a complex tidal estuary. Perhaps these common problems fostered in us a greater spirit of cooperation than is common among other ecologists. At any rate, our group at Sapelo Island developed a deep appreciation of the value of each other’s approach to scientific problems. In particular, we quickly came to realize the artificiality of separating ecosystem ecology from population ecology. Instead of perpetuating a sterile argument over the wisdom of measuring the whole or its parts, we adopted the more logical and scientifically defensible maxim that any explanation, as opposed to an observation, of the behavior of an entire system is impossible without some knowledge of its parts, and, in turn, any observed behavior of a single part can only be explained within the context of the system in which that part is functioning. This has been our philosophical approach to understanding ecological processes in the salt marshes.
KeywordsSalt Marsh Particulate Organic Carbon Ecological Process Tidal Creek Marsh Surface
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.