Wetland Marshes

Marsh is a type of wetland that is continuously flooded with water. Emergent-soft stemmed vegetation is present in marsh due to the saturated soil conditions. In Louisiana, there are four types of wetland marsh: freshwater, intermediate, brackish, and salt. Marshes are classified according to the salinity of the water. The location of Louisiana marshes in relation to the Gulf of Mexico often directly correlates to the level of salt content in the water. Salinity also changes based upon rainfall, drainage, soil texture, vegetation, depth of water table, and freshwater inflow.

The salinity range for each marsh type is as follows:

  • Freshwater – 0 ppt (parts per thousand)
  • Intermediate – 0-5 ppt
  • Brackish – 5-15 ppt
  • Salt – 15 or greater ppt

marsh_salinity

A wide variety of animals such as nutria, turtles, and many bird species can be spotted in the freshwater and intermediate marshes of Louisiana, as well as species of special concern like Louisiana black bears and Calcasieu painted crawfish. The exchange between freshwater and salt water is frequent in the state of Louisiana due to its close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. An estuary is characterized by this mixture of freshwater and salt forming brackish water where many wetland species spend their juvenile lives. The estuaries of coastal Louisiana support economically important fisheries and provide important wildlife habitat. Crabs, fish, and shrimp are a few of the animals found in Louisiana’s salt marsh, and birds like brown pelicans and reddish egrets often nest in the shrubby vegetation bordering salt marshes. Each of these marsh types play a significant role. It is vital to keep these marshes healthy for them to maintain their value and support the people, plants, and animals of Louisiana.

 

 

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Wetland Marshes

Did you know:

There are four different types of wetland marshes in Louisiana.

Due to Louisiana’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, the exchange between fresh and salt water along the coast is frequent. Depending on the location of the marsh, it could be classified as either freshwater, intermediate, brackish, or saltwater marsh. Marshes are categorized by the salinity, or salt content, of the water, and the location of marshes to the Gulf of Mexico often directly correlates with the salinity level. Generally following a salinity gradient, freshwater marshes are commonly situated furthest inland from the gulf with a salt content of 0 ppt (parts per thousand), intermediate marshes contain a salinity range of 0-5 ppt, brackish marshes have a range of 5-15 ppt, and saltwater marshes encompass a salt content of 15 ppt or greater. Within the marsh gradient are estuaries, where fresh and salt water mix and many wetland species spend their juvenile lives.

 

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