, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 191-208

Evaluation of the flora and fauna of aSpartina alterniflora marsh established on dredged material in Winyah Bay, South Carolina

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Approximately 35 hectares ofSpartina alterniflora marsh has, over a 14-year period, developed naturally on unconfined dredged material placed within the intertidal zone of Winyah Bay, South Carolina. The above-and below-ground vegetative structure, benthic macrofauna, and resident fish and shellfish assemblages of two varying-aged zones (4 and 8 years) of this marsh were evaluated and compared in September 1988. Vegetative structure (stem height, density, percent cover, and biomass) in both zones was within the range reported for natural sites, with a trend toward greater below-ground development with age. The macrofaunal assemblages of both zones were similar in both species composition and numbers of species (17–21 species), with oligochaetes and polychaetes dominating both assemblages. Overall density of macrofauna in the 8-year-old zone (19,943 individuals per m2) was significantly greater than that in the 4-year-old zone (4,628 individuals per m2). Differences between zones (particularly the presence of large-bodied molluscs in the older site) seemed to reflect age. The fish and shellfish assemblage collected from the younger site was dominated byFundulus heteroclitus andPalaemonetes pugio. Gut contents ofF. heteroclitus included a variety of marsh-surface prey, similar to that reported elsewhere. Overall, both zones seemed to represent well established, viable, low intertidal marsh habitat.