Avian utilisation on six salt marshes in New Jersey

Joanna Burger, Joseph Shisler, Fred H. Lesser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Bird use was measured on six salt marshes in New Jersey from 18 April to 18 July 1977 (2 impoundments, 2 ditched marshes and 2 natural salt marshes) in terms of species diversity, numbers of individuals and biomass. Seventy-eight species of birds were recorded in all six marshes although not all species occurred on each marsh. Species diversity was highest on the impoundments, intermediate on the ditched marshes, and lowest in the natural marshes. Species diversity and the number of individuals directly related to the amount of open surface area. The traditional species typical of salt marshes on the East Coast of North America (clapper rails Rallus longirostris, seaside and sharp-tailed sparrows Ammospiza spp.) occurred primarily in the natural salt marshes and were absent from the impoundments. Considerations of species diversity suggest that diversity in salt marsh types is essential to maintaining high species diversity in salt marsh ecosystems. Red-winged blackbirds Agelaius phoeniceus and swallows were the most numerous species, followed by gulls and terns. The impoundments had over five times as many individuals as the natural marshes. Waterfowl, gulls, terns and waders accounted for over 90% of the cumulative biomass in the six marshes, with waterfowl contributing over 50%. This study suggests that conservationists should encourage the maintenance of natural salt marshes because they are necessary habitats for some species even though the diversity and avian biomass is less on natural salt marsh areas than it is on managed areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-212
Number of pages26
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1982

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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