Salt marshes, especially those of Spartina alterniflora, are among the most productive habitats on Earth. The peat that is formed and accumulates there, as below-ground biomass, can be dispersed in a number of ways, through calving off the marsh edge along bays, in creeks, and other locations as occurs in the Mullica River – Great Bay estuary in southern New Jersey. Based on a variety of sampling approaches, including those collected by sidescan sonar and direct collection, we provide new insights into the ecological role of dispersed peat. Some of this is ice rafted on the marsh surface during storms. Elsewhere, and most commonly, it falls into the intertidal channels or flats where it may continue to support the growth of Spartina, and associated invertebrates such as Geukensia demissa. If it is deposited subtidally these may not be as likely, but in these situations the peat provides structured habitat for other animals such as fishes, crabs, shrimps, and bivalves.
Part of the book: Peat