Estuarine Intertidal Sand: Partly Enclosed Eulittoral, Mesohaline (Marsh)

This habitat occurs in bays and deltas with significant freshwater influence and high enough energy to prevent siltation.  Salinities range from oligohaline to polyhaline.  On low terraces along stream and river channels, the sand may contain pockets of clay or peat (organic).

These and other marsh types provide great amounts of food and habitat for terrestrial and marine organisms as well as exporting large quantities of detritus to estuarine ecosystems.  Animals using salt marshes range from deer and elk to voles, owls, insects, and snow geese and a tremendous variety of other birds. Insects are consumed by fish at high tide, and detritus is eaten by amphipods, clams, and worms, which in turn are eaten by larger invertebrates, shorebirds, mammals, and fish. See Albright et al. (1980) for discussion about Washington salt marsh food webs.

Diagnostic Species

The bulrush Scirpus americanus is the diagnostic plant species in bays and on deltas.  It often forms monospecific stands.  Along freshwater streams and river channels the habitat is dominated by the sedge Carex lyngbyei which often forms dense monospecific swards.

Common Associates

Triglochin maritimum, Carex lyngbyei, Zannichellia palustris

Sites Surveyed

Skagit Bay, Snohomish/ Port Susan Bay, Quilcene Bay, Nooksack River Delta, Quilceda Creek, Stavis Bay, Duckabush River Delta, Hamma Hamma River Delta, Skokomish River Delta, Lynch Cove, Minter Creek, Skookum Inlet, Kennedy Creek, Nisqually River Delta, Humptulips River Delta, Chenois Creek, Johns River, Elk River, Andrews Creek, Bone River, Niawiakum River, Palix River, Nemah River, Naselle River, Bear River, Baker Bay.


Mumford and Shaffer pers. com.; Kunze, 1984; Ewing, 1982 and 1983; Kunze and Cornelius, 1982; Disraeli, 1977; Jefferson, 1975.