Geographic Variation in Salt Marsh Structure and Function for Nekton: a Guide to Finding Commonality Across Multiple Scales

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Ziegler, SL
Baker, R
Crosby, SC
Colombano, DD
Barbeau, MA
Cebrian, J
Connolly, RM
Deegan, LA
Gilby, BL
Mallick, D
Martin, CW
Nelson, JA
Reinhardt, JF
Simenstad, CA
et al.
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Coastal salt marshes are distributed widely across the globe and are considered essential habitat for many fish and crustacean species. Yet, the literature on fishery support by salt marshes has largely been based on a few geographically distinct model systems, and as a result, inadequately captures the hierarchical nature of salt marsh pattern, process, and variation across space and time. A better understanding of geographic variation and drivers of commonalities and differences across salt marsh systems is essential to informing future management practices. Here, we address the key drivers of geographic variation in salt marshes: hydroperiod, seascape configuration, geomorphology, climatic region, sediment supply and riverine input, salinity, vegetation composition, and human activities. Future efforts to manage, conserve, and restore these habitats will require consideration of how environmental drivers within marshes affect the overall structure and subsequent function for fisheries species. We propose a future research agenda that provides both the consistent collection and reporting of sources of variation in small-scale studies and collaborative networks running parallel studies across large scales and geographically distinct locations to provide analogous information for data poor locations. These comparisons are needed to identify and prioritize restoration or conservation efforts, identify sources of variation among regions, and best manage fisheries and food resources across the globe.

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Estuaries and Coasts

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Earth sciences

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Ziegler, SL; Baker, R; Crosby, SC; Colombano, DD; Barbeau, MA; Cebrian, J; Connolly, RM; Deegan, LA; Gilby, BL; Mallick, D; Martin, CW; Nelson, JA; Reinhardt, JF; Simenstad, CA; et al., Geographic Variation in Salt Marsh Structure and Function for Nekton: a Guide to Finding Commonality Across Multiple Scales, Estuaries and Coasts, 2021