Salt Marshes & Mangrove Forests


Salt marshes are located near estuaries and sounds. They can be found on the coasts of many continents, including North America. There are salt marshes on North Carolina's east coast.

Mangrove forests are located in the inter-tidal zone in most tropical coastlines and estuaries. They lie between the latitudes of 32*N and 38*S.

Fun Facts: South Carolina has the largest area of marsh lands out of all of the states on the Atlantic Coast.

Abiotic Factors are all of the NON-LIVING things in an environment

Biotic Factors are all of the LIVING things in an environment.

Abiotic factors in Salt Marshes & Mangrove Forests:

Producers are organisms (plants) that generate energy through the process of photosynthesis. They also serve as food for other organisms and are at the bottom of a food pyramid. Mangrove trees, algae, Saw grass, Cattails, Chord grass, some plankton and Black Needlerush are all producers in a Salt marsh and Mangrove forest ecosystem.

Consumers are organisms that receive energy by eating (consuming) other organisms. Consumers can eat plants, animals, or a combination of both. Manatees, sea turtles,mummichogs, fisher cats, fish, monitor lizards, and aligators are all consumers in these two ecosystems.

Decomposers are organisms that break down dead and decaying matter/organisms. They also return nutrients back to the ecosystem. Bacteria, worms, shrimp, fungi, and microorganisms help break down excess dead and decaying matter in a salt marsh.


Invertebrates are very common in aquatic settings. Invertebrates include: clams, shrimp, crabs, snails, worms, slugs, and mussels. Invertebrates can be broken down into many subdivisions such as crustaceans and mollusks. The word invertebrate simply describes a type of animal. Animals that are invertebrates do not have backbones, instead they may have a shell or an exoskeleton.

Some invertebrates are decomposers!

Coexistence: when two or more species live in harmony with each other (they typically do not share a niche, habitat, or consume the same food although it is possible)

Manatees and Sea turtles live in coexistence.

Cooperation: when a group of organisms work or act together for a common benefit.

Some species of shrimp and fish will protect each other. The shrimp will build a burrow in the sand for both the fish and the shrimp to live in, while the fish warns the shrimp and acts as a security guard.

Competition: when one species keeps resources away from another species or when a species depletes resources before other organisms have a chance to use them.

Vines can plant themselves on or near mangroves. They use up the nutrients that the mangroves would use and end up depleting the nutrients from the area that the mangrove is in.

Parasitism: a relationship where one organism lives off of the other organism (most often causing harm.

Ectoparasites are often crustaceans in the order Isopoda or Copepoda. Isopods have adapted strong suckers, flat bodies, and sharp jaws used to attach to their host. They tend to molt in stages so that they remain latched on to the host. Some isopods will attach to the fish and cause no harm. In this case they eat particles of food that float by rather than feed on the host directly.

Mutualism: a symbiotic relationship where both species benefit.

"Some anemones share a mutualistic relationship with Boxer crabs."

Biotic factors in salt marshes and mangrove forests

Fun fact: Theoretically you could drink the water from Mangrove roots even if the water surrounding it has an extremely high salt content. Mangroves have adapted to purify the water that they take in through their roots.

Environmental Cycles:
Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles
The Cycles: Water, Carbon, Nitrogen, Phosphorus