Plum Island Long-Term Ecological Research Site


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Marsh Detritus Removal Experiment

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.

Works Cited:
Knapp, A.K., and T.R. Seastedt. 1983. Detritus accumulation limits productivity of tallgrass prairie. Bioscience 36:662-668.

Haying Locations in Plum Island Sound
Graphic showing the location of hayed areas and frequency of haying in the Stackyard Road area where the PIE LTER is examining the effects of marsh detritus removal on the marsh ecosystem.

Salt Marsh Haying Site
(photo by John Ludlam)

File Description
LTE-MD-VEGSTN A description of the two hayed and two reference areas used for vegetation studies in the haying project. Includes transects within the hayed areas.
LTE-MD-VEGTRANS Identification of vegetation along transects through two hayed and two reference sites.
LTE-MD-VEGQUADS Vegetation % cover data from quadrats along transects through two hayed and two reference sites.
LTE-MD-EARLYVEG Biomass and shoot densities at hayed and reference sites for samples collected in June and early July 2000.
LTE-MD-EOYBIOMASS End of growing season percent cover and biomass data for hayed and reference sites.
LTE-MD-BIRD-HAY-STN The stations used for counting birds in the hayed and reference sites.
LTE-MD-BIRD-HAY-DATA Birds observed in newly hayed and adjacent reference sites. August 2000 through 2001.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement #OCE-9726921, #OCE-0423565, #OCE-1058747. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.