, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 425–437 | Cite as

Transitional Wetland Faunal Community Characterization and Response to Precipitation-Driven Salinity Fluctuations

  • Donna Marie BilkovicEmail author
  • Molly Roggero Mitchell
  • Carl H. Hershner
  • Kirk J. Havens


Transitional wetlands occur along an estuarine salinity continuum bracketed by salt and nontidal freshwater wetlands. Long-term disturbances, such as sea level rise, may shift physical characteristics and hydrologic features of estuarine systems leading to transitional wetland habitat alterations, with unknown affects to associated biological communities. To begin to assess the ecological significance of a change in transitional wetland character, physicochemical parameters, and fish and invertebrate communities were surveyed seasonally in two extensive meso-oligohaline marshes, currently undergoing changes due to sea level rise. Faunal communities were similar between marshes, and included economically important species and forage fish. Temporal shifts in communities occurred seasonally and annually with high variability in species abundance among years. Drastic annual variability in salinity regimes due to extremes in precipitation occurred during the survey period driving shifts in biotic community composition.


Brackish marsh Climatic variability Fish communities Macrofauna Sea level rise Zooplankton 



This research was supported by numerous project sponsors: Mr. and Mrs. John Paul Causey, Edmund Dejarnette, Jr., Elis Olsson Memorial Foundation, George Freeman, Bruce Gottwald, Sr., Floyd Gottwald, Jr., Herbert Jackson, IV, Martha Langford, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, F. S. Reed, Jr., The C.F. Sauer Company, Sidney Scott, Universal Leaf Foundation, and Coleman Wortham, III. The support of everyone in Center for Coastal Resources Management was essential for the successful completion of this project. In particular, we thank D. Stanhope, K. Angstadt, G. Silberhorn for field support, and H. Berquist for his map production skills. VIMS contribution 3199.


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donna Marie Bilkovic
    • 1
    Email author
  • Molly Roggero Mitchell
    • 1
  • Carl H. Hershner
    • 1
  • Kirk J. Havens
    • 1
  1. 1.Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & MaryGloucester PointUSA

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