BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Although many people do not realize it, salt marshes are really important for the ecosystem. They serve as habitat for many species that are nowhere else to be found and even serve as buffer zones during storms. Unfortunately, salt marshes are in danger and we must protect them.
The US Geological Survey conducted a study on eight salt marshes and discovered that erosion led to a severe decrease in sediments in all biomes. If action is not taken immediately, four of the biomes will be gone within 350 years. This study is only the latest in a series of researches on the threat posed to these ecosystems.
Salt marshes are so important because they are responsible with what more other ecosystems do. Coral reefs maintain biodiversity and protect the shorelines, while rainforests store carbon. Marshes and coastal wetlands do all these things.
When sediment is deposited by the tide in sheltered areas between land and sea, the salty and half terrestrial/half aquatic habitat that represents the marsh is formed. It hosts all kinds of life forms, animals, plants, and microbes alike. They also serve as nurseries for several fish and bird species.
Beside the benefits they bring for animals, they are useful for humans, too. They act as barriers against storms and protect the coastlines. Moreover, since the conditions for fish reproduction are so good, they play a main role in the fishing industry, providing fish for human consumption.
Therefore, it would be a terrible loss to look at the marshes and, in a few decades, see open spaces filled with water. So far, the authorities have tried to protect the marshes by building dikes and dredges. They have proven somehow successful in maintaining the optimal amount of sediment.
The geologists have also noticed that the danger stood in the disappearance of certain species of plants that helped keep the sediment in place. Thus, they suggested the adding of some invasive species which would hold down the soil, or ones which would keep other predators away.
The presence of humans also produced this unbalance in the ecosystem of salt marshes. With their constant rush for land with sea opening, they kept the marshes from naturally expanding. This is why conservation actions must be taken so that humans would no longer disrupt these fragile ecosystems.
In the end, one of the most important thing that we can do to save salt marshes and other ecosystems is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible. If these emissions are reduced, the sea level rise would slow down and would allow marshes to adapt.
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