Over 400 hectares of Plum Island Sound marsh are regularly
hayed by commercial farmers, most on a biennial basis. Haying used to
be common and extensive throughout New England marshes; however, the
operation in Plum Island Sound is one of the last operations remaining.
Haying of the salt marsh is analogous to large-scale removal of detritus
or herbivory. Haying removes >90% of annual aboveground production
and biomass. This represents a significant loss of nutrients (Knapp
and Seastedt 1983) and organic matter that would otherwise be available
for marsh detritivores and microbes, export or peat accumulation. A
long-term experiment is being carried out by PIE LTER scientists to
study the effects of marsh detritus removal on a variety of ecological
processes in the Plum Island Sound marsh ecosystem.
Knapp, A.K., and T.R. Seastedt. 1983. Detritus accumulation limits
productivity of tallgrass prairie. Bioscience 36:662-668.