Decline in Salt Marshes in US Caused by Increased Nutrient Levels

Salt Marshes are marshy areas found near estuaries and low-energy coastlines. The water can vary from completely fresh to completely salt water, and is greatly affected by the tides. Salt marshes support diverse wildlife up and down the east coast of the United States. They also serve an important function in stabilizing the coastlines because the plant roots anchor the otherwise highly erodible soil. Unfortunately, salt marshes have been dying away over the past 20 years without a full understanding of how and why. A new report from the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, MA postulates that the cause of the decline is due to excess nutrients seeping into the marshes. These nutrients from sewer systems and lawn fertilizers, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, have been shown to cause salt marsh loss.

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