Based on research by Hayoon Chung, MIT ’16



Microorganisms are very important in salt marshes. They contribute greatly to the productivity as photosynthetic producers  and they serve as food for many organisms. Some microorganisms aid plants by working in its roots. Others help the cycling at the end of the energy flow by decomposing matter. They are the beginning, the end, and the cycling of the food chain and biome.


Other than providing food and energy for each other, organisms on the salt marsh provide shelters for each other. Many plants such as the Groundsel tree provide nesting areas for various birds. Many of the tall plants such as the smooth cordgrass provide shelter to  animals during  incoming storms or tides. Overall, the plants create niches and areas where various other organisms thrive.
The salt marsh also provides nursing areas for fish, insects, and crustaceans. Insects such as mosquitoes depend on the salt marsh to lay eggs to reproduce. Although we may find such insects as pests, they are important sources of food for other organisms in the salt marsh. Fish and crabs also depend on the salt marshes for laying their eggs. Ribbed mussels  have amazing filtration abilities. Researches have shown that they are capable of filtering great amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen. Because both phosphorus and nitrogen are nutrients that  mussels need, they absorb it from the water. They absorb phosphorus to consume and deposit as feces and they consume nitrogen in order to build up flesh, shells, and gametes. Afterwards, the nitrogen that remains in the shells and the phosphorus that had been deposited in fecal material are consumed by other organisms.

Common New England Salt Marsh Animals


Snowy Egret (Egretta thula): a small white heron. It is protected by the US law.
Semi-palmated plover (Charadrius semipalmatus): a small plover. Originally from Canada or Alaska but migrates to the US.
Herring gull (Larus Argentatus): “sea-gulls”
Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris): A declining species due to destruction of marshes.
Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) : A large tyrant fly catcher, native.
Common Yellow throat (Geothylpis trichas): small songbirds.
Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza Georgiana): a medium sized sparrow that normally lives in estuaries.
Red Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus): a perching song bird found in North and central America.
Salt Marsh sharp-tailed Sparrow (Ammodramus caudacutus): Sparrows that breed on Salt Marshes of the Atlantic Coast of the United States.




Fiddler crabs (Uca spp)
Square Black crab (sesarma reticulatum)
Amphipods (Gammarus)
Green Striped hermit crab (Clibanarious vittatus)
Gulf crab (calinectes similis)
Blue crab (Calinectes sapidus)
Grass shrimp (palaemonetes)


Long-horned grasshopper (Conocepnalius spartinae)
Plant bugs (Miridae Trigonotylus sp.)
Plant hoppers (Delphacidae, Prokelisisa marginata, cicadellidae, graminella nigrifrons)
Aphids Scale insects Flies (chloropids, dolischopodids, ephydrids.) –feed on plant secretions, algae, detritus
Marsh Mosquito (Aedes Sollicitans)- lay eggs in higher marshes.

Molluscs:3 - Copy

(Littorina irrorata)
Olive nerite
(Neritina reclivata)
Salt marsh Mussel
(Guekensia demise)
(Crassostrea virginica)
(conch Melangena)



killifish (Bayou, Diamond, Long-nosed)
Sheepshead minnow
Mosquito fish
Tidewater silverside
Clown goby
Stiped mulltet

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