Of course, you can take the time to simply look through the information and pictures provided, learning some fun facts about our flora and fauna while you do so. However, we also hope you use this guide as a research tool. For the flora, we focus on two common types of algae found in the marsh and then the main terrestrial plants you will see. For the fauna, we get more specific and have organized our species by phylum. A phylum is a group of related life forms. Specifically, each phylum will represent a group of animals that have a similar body plan. Below is the breakdown of how all living things are organized.
You can see that phylum is close to the top, meaning it is a group encompassing many species. For each phylum we will provide an overview of the characteristics specific to that group. Each individual plant and animal will have its genus and species, referred to as its scientific name, below its common name.
In order for you to better understand where each organism primarily fits in the salt marsh-tidal creek ecosystem food web, as well as where it can primarily be found, we have provided some identifying features next to each species’ name. For trophic level within the food web, you will see a capitalized letter inside a set of parentheses directly after the common name of the organism.
(P) = Producer – creates its own energy
(D) = Detritivore – consumes decaying matter
(H) = Herbivore – consumes plants
(C) = Carnivore – consumes animals
(O) = Omnivore – consumes plants and animals
For location within the salt marsh-tidal creek ecosystem, a cross section diagram is provided to the right of each species’ name. The color coded areas of the cross section indicate which zone or zones the organism primarily resides in. For example, a fish is designated here as primarily residing in the tidal creek zone; however, many can also be found feeding on the marsh surface at high tide. The colors for each zone are listed below, as well as some examples. For the fauna, you will also see an “R” or a “T” in the upper left of each cross section indicating whether the animal spends their whole life (Resident) or only part of their life (Transient) in the salt marshes and tidal creeks.
Blue = Tidal creek
Green = Low marsh
Orange = High marsh
Red = Upland border