Salt marshes or saline wetlands are vegetated intertidal flats dominated by low-growing halophytic (salt-tolerant) shrubs and herbaceous plants, particularly grasses. Typically, salt marsh borders freshwater or brackish environments. Largely confined to temperate coastlines, they occupy a similar niche to tropical mangrove forests; that is, the upper intertidal zone of inlets, estuaries, lagoons, and embayments, or fronting the open sea where low-energy conditions persist (Frey and Basan 1985). In warm temperate, subtropical, and some tropical regions, salt marsh and mangrove communities sometimes intermingle, but can be separated by definition on the basis of floristics or intertidal position.
Salt marsh originates with the spread of vegetation onto an accreting intertidal mudflat. Fine suspended sediments (silts and clays) and organic material washed in by tides, and subsequently trapped by roots of salt marsh vegetation, generate a gently sloping depositional terrace or platform...
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