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Where’s The Peak? Observations of Tidal Marsh Diversity Along The Patuxent and Nanticoke Rivers. By Peter Sharpe and Andrew H. Baldwin The University of Maryland Department of Environmental Science and Technology May-August 2006. Fresh. Transitional. Richness. Richness. Brackish.

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where s the peak observations of tidal marsh diversity along the patuxent and nanticoke rivers

Where’s The Peak? Observations of Tidal Marsh Diversity Along The Patuxent and Nanticoke Rivers

By

Peter Sharpe and Andrew H. Baldwin

The University of Maryland

Department of Environmental Science and Technology

May-August 2006

research objectives

Fresh

Transitional

Richness

Richness

Brackish

Salinity

Salinity

Research Objectives
  • Describe plant species richness across a salinity gradient (fresh-brackish) in tidal marshes of two Chesapeake Bay Tributaries
slide3

Patuxent River

Washington D.C.

patuxent river watershed features
Patuxent River Watershed Features

Watershed Size – 2,356 km2

Gradient Length – 47 km

Mean Tidal Range at Jug Bay – 0.73 m

Land Use:

  • 30% Agricultural
  • 40% Forest
  • 20% Urban
  • 10% Other Land Uses

Number of Survey Plots - 13

slide5

Patuxent River

Washington D.C.

Nanticoke River

nanticoke river watershed features
Nanticoke River Watershed Features

Watershed Size – 2,136 km2

Gradient Length – 56 km

Mean Tidal Range at Sharptown, MD – 0.76 m

Land Use:

  • 48% Agricultural
  • 41% Forest
  • 2% Urban
  • 8% Other Land Uses

Number of Survey Plots - 16

patuxent and nanticoke river study sites
Patuxent and Nanticoke River Study Sites

Patuxent River Gradient – 47 km

Nanticoke River Gradient – 56 km

Seaford, DE

Jug Bay

Bivalve Harbor

Benedict

methods

10

3

9

8

4

7

6

2

2

1

2

2

3

2

4

5

4

3

Methods

Vegetation surveyed using nested plot design consisting of a series of 10x10 m modules (Peet et al. 1998)

20 m

50 m

GPS Reading

Piezometer Location

SCT Reading

typical sampling location

Low Marsh

Levee

High Marsh

Typical Sampling Location

Surveyed Area

10 m

conclusions
Conclusions
  • Nanticoke River data show no immediate reduction in richness, actually an increase along the Nanticoke up to mean soil salinity of 3-4 ppt (peak observed at 0.8 ppt soil salinity)
  • Patuxent River data show slight peak in June within limits of salt intrusion followed by maintenance of species richness along gradient up to 3 ppt
  • Periodic salt water stress could promote coexistence of freshwater and brackish species
  • Other potential factors: soil nutrient concentrations, marsh hydroperiods, toxicants, invasive species
acknowledgements
Acknowledgements

Project funding provided by the Maryland/D.C. Chapter of The Nature Conservancy through a Biodiversity Conservation Research Fund Grant

Special thanks to Dr. Andrew Baldwin, Dr. David Tilley, Daniel Marcin, Robbie Vocke, Krissy Rusello, Douglas Rau, and Katherine Sharpe