Date of Award

Fall 2010

Document Type

Legacy Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies


Coastal and Marine Systems Science


College of Science

First Advisor

Eric T. Koepfler

Second Advisor

James O. Luken

Third Advisor

John J. Hutchens, Jr.


Salt marshes serve several important functions; as barrier habitats between the terrestrial and marine environment, sources of important nutrients to estuarine and oceanic organisms and unique habitat for many species of plants and animals (Levine et al., 1998; Mitsch and Gosselink, 2000). These ecosystems are highly zonated and express patchy plant and animal distributions. While much of this distribution is attributed to variation in stressors (e.g. salinity and water availability) it is still not entirely understood. In an area that is likely to be effected by global climate change (through rising air temperature and sea level) as well as continuous human development, it is critical to understand the small scale processes within a salt marsh to determine what effects changes to these habitats tnay have on the life and functions within the salt marsh. This study investigated surface sediment temperatures of several plant habitats (Juncus roemerianus, Salicornia spp., Spartina patens, Salt Pan, Mix and Random) and factors controlling those temperatures within the high marsh of Waties Island, SC using hourly data from temperature data loggers at 30 sites in the mid high marsh region. Tidal effects were determined by looking at three elevations of the Mix habitat with an additional 10 sites (5 each in the high high marsh and low high marsh). Manipulative experiments were used to determine the effects of shading and evapotranspiration within each habitat in the mid high marsh region.