Glossary

Abiotic
physical properties of an environment
Adaptation
a change in an organism allowing it to be better suited to live in its environment
Anaerobic respiration
type of respiration not involving oxygen use
Anoxic
almost no oxygen present
Ballast water
fresh or salt water held in ships to increase stability, ships fill tanks in one location and release water in a different location
Barrier island
an island off the coast that protects the mainland
Bateau boat
a light flat-bottomed boat
Best Management Practices
a way to reduce the impact of non-point source pollution on waterways
Biotic
the living things in an environment (plants and animals)
Blue carbon
carbon removed from atmosphere by coastal plants and sediment and stored in coastal ecosystems
Brackish
mixture of freshwater and seawater
Decomposition
the process of breaking down naturally
Detritus
leftover organic matter after decomposition (e.g. small pieces of decomposing marsh grass)
Dike
a wall put in place to prevent flooding and control water flow
Ecosystem
a system formed by the interaction between and among organisms and the physical environment
Erosion
gradual wearing away of something by wind or water
Estuary
the area where a river meets the ocean, resulting in a series of mixing zones from freshwater (0 ppt) to full strength seawater (36 ppt)
Eutrophication
excess nutrients in the water
Greenhouse gases
gases that trap heat in the atmosphere
Halophyte
salt tolerant plants
High marsh
upper zone of the salt marsh with infrequent flooding
Hypoxia
oxygen levels low enough to stress organisms
Impervious surfaces
material that water cannot penetrate such as roofs, roads, and parking lots
Impoundment
an enclosed body of water
Intertidal
an area submerged at high tide and exposed at low tide
Invasive species
organisms not naturally found in an area which often compete with and become more abundant than native species
Invertebrate
an animal lacking a backbone
Keystone species
a species that plays a vital role in shaping an ecosystem
Living shoreline
the use of plants, sand, oyster shell, and other organic material to stabilize a bank, thus protecting it from erosion
Low Impact Development
utilizes on-site treatment of stormwater in an environmentally conscious way such as infiltration
Low marsh
lower zone of the salt marsh flooded for most of the day
Monoculture
the presence of only one plant in an area
Mud flat
intertidal habitats with no plants, occurring in areas with weaker currents and muddy sediments
Native
originally found or naturally occurring in an area
Niche
a species’ role in an ecosystem
Non-point source pollution
pollution which cannot be traced to a specific source but comes from multiple sources
Non-target organisms
an organism not meant to be caught
Nutrients
substances such as Nitrogen and Phosphorous, required for growth and reproduction, that runoff of nearby land into local waterways
Operculum
a hard lid or flap that covers and protects (e.g. gill cover)
Oyster reef
a large colony of oysters in the intertidal or subtidal habitats
Pluff Mud
Very fine muddy sediment in the tidal creek and low marsh zones that one can sink in.
Refuge
an area which provides shelter and protection
Resident
an organism that spends its whole life in the salt marsh-tidal creek ecosystem
Salt panne
area in the high marsh with high salinity and sandy sediments
Sand flat
intertidal habitats occurring in areas with stronger currents and sandy sediments
Sea level rise
an increase in sea level due to the melting of land ice
Semi-diurnal
occurring twice a day
Sequester
to take away and store something
Shell midden
an area where empty oyster shells were piled by local tribes
South Atlantic Bight
Cape Hatteras, NC to West Palm Beach, FL
Stormwater runoff
water that runs off the land into local waterways
Transient
an organism that spends only part of its life in the salt marsh-tidal creek ecosystem
Turbidity
the cloudiness of the water related to sediment levels
Upland border
transition zone between the high marsh and uplands where plants must be able to tolerate some salt
Vegetative buffer
generally undisturbed vegetation zone between development and salt marsh or estuary
Water quality
a measure of water properties such as turbidity, oxygen, and nutrient levels often used to relate to organism health
Wetland
marsh or swamp area that is always or frequently wet
Wrack
broken off stems of Spartina alterniflora that move with the tide and accumulate in mats
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