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Although large salt marshes of the northeastern United States have been studied extensively, very little is known about the smaller, fringing marshes in this area, despite the fact that they are a common habitat type. We compared the functions and values of five fringing salt marshes (FM) to those of five meadow marshes (MM) along the southern Maine/New Hampshire coast. Specifically we compared their primary production, soil organic matter content, plant diversity, sediment trapping ability and wave dampening properties. Also explored were the relationships between these functions and several physical characteristics at each site, including soil salinity, percent surface slope, elevation and size. The results of this study indicate that despite their small size, fringing salt marshes are valuable components of estuaries, performing many ecological functions to the same degree as nearby meadow marshes. More effort should be made to include them in regional efforts to conserve and restore coastal habitats.


This is the accepted manuscript version of the published article:

Morgan, P.A., Burdick, D.B. and Short, F.T. 2009. The functions and values of fringing salt marshes in northern New England, USA. Estuaries and Coasts 32(3): 483-495.

The final publication is available at Springer via



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