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A global analysis of the seaward salt marsh extent: The importance of tidal range
Balke, T.; Stock, M.; Jensen, K.; Bouma, T.J; Kleyer, M. (2016). A global analysis of the seaward salt marsh extent: The importance of tidal range. Water resources research 52: 3775-3786. dx.doi.org/10.1002/2015WR018318
In: Water resources research. American Geophysical Union, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

Authors  Top 
  • Balke, T.
  • Stock, M.
  • Jensen, K.
  • Bouma, T.J, more
  • Kleyer, M.

Abstract
    Despite the growing interest in ecosystem services provided by intertidal wetlands, we lack suf-?cient understanding of the processes that determine the seaward extent of salt marsh vegetation on tidal?ats. With the present study, we aim to establish a globally valid demarcation between tidal ?ats and saltmarsh vegetation in relation to tidal range. By comparing results from a regional GIS study with a global lit-erature search on the salt marsh-tidal ?at border, we are able to de?ne the global critical elevation, abovewhich salt marsh plants can grow in the intertidal zone. Moreover, we calculate inundation characteristicsfrom global tide gauge records to determine inundation duration and frequency at this predicted saltmarsh-tidal ?at border depending on tidal range. Our study shows that the height difference between thelowest elevation of salt marsh pioneer vegetation and mean high water increases logarithmically with tidalrange when including macrotidal salt marshes. Hence, the potentially vegetated section of the tidal framebelow mean high water does not proportionally increase with tidal range. The data analysis suggests thatinundation frequency rather than duration de?nes the global lower elevational limit of vascular salt marshplants on tidal ?ats. This is critical information to better estimate sea level rise and coastal change effects onlateral marsh development

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