|Salt shrub at Canarsie Pier, Gateway National Recreation Area
||Gregory J. Edinger
SubSystem: Estuarine Intertidal
State Rarity Rank:
Global Rarity Rank:
Did you know?
Salt shrub is perhaps one of the best communities to see the interaction of the landscape and tidal range. Large areas of salt shrub can be found where there are broad, gentle slopes intersecting the upper range of spring and storm tides. Where slopes of the marsh basin are steep and the intersection with the tidal range is narrow, salt shrub is condensed into a thin band (MacDonald and Edinger 2000).
|State Ranking Justification||
There are estimated to be between 20 and 50 occurrences statewide. The very few documented occurrences have good viability and are protected on public land. The community is restricted to sheltered areas of the seacoast in the Coastal Lowlands and Manhattan Hills ecozones. The current trend of the community is declining and the primary threat to this community is invasion by common reed (Phragmites australis). Secondary threats, common to all salt marsh complexes, include ditching and draining, dredging and filling, poor water quality, diking and impoundment, inlet stabilization, shoreline hardening, wrack accumulation, altered sediment budget, subsidence, changes in water circulation patterns, restricted tidal connection, and altered tidal hydrodynamics.
In recent decades, the number, aerial extent, and quality of salt shrub (and salt marsh complexes) in New York has declined significantly. These losses are primarily due to invasion by common reed (Phragmites australis), dredging and filling for urban development, and to pollution, including airborne particulates, pesticides, and sewage and stormwater discharge. It is suspected that losses will continue, resulting from ongoing invasive species encroachment, shoreline development, declining water quality, and hydrologic alterations. The degradation and loss of salt shrub, which forms an upland buffer for lower elevation salt marsh communities, may have profound adverse effects on those tidal wetlands, causing increased sediment flow, altered ground water elevations and flow, loss of nutrient filtering vegetation, and loss of wildlife habitat for wetland edge species (MacDonald and Edinger 2000).
The number, aerial extent, and integrity of salt marsh complexes and associated salt shrub communities in New York are suspected to have declined substantially from their historical state. These declines are likely correlated with coastal development; dredging, ditching, and filling; and changes in hydrology, water quality, and natural processes.