An integrative salt marsh conceptual framework for global comparisons

Publication Name

Limnology And Oceanography Letters


Salt marshes occur globally across climatic and coastal settings, providing key linkages between terrestrial and marine ecosystems. However, salt marsh science lacks a unifying conceptual framework; consequently, historically well-studied locations have been used as normative benchmarks. To allow for more effective comparisons across the diversity of salt marshes, we developed an integrative salt marsh conceptual framework. We review ecosystem-relevant drivers from global to local spatial scales, integrate these multi-scale settings into a framework, and provide guidance on applying the framework using specific variables on 11 global examples. Overall, this framework allows for appropriate comparison of study sites by accounting for global, coastal, inter-, and intra-system spatial settings unique to each salt marsh. We anticipate that incorporating this framework into salt marsh science will provide a mechanism to critically evaluate research questions and a foundation for effective quantitative studies that deepen our understanding of salt marsh function across spatial scales.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Data Science Institute, Columbia University



Link to publisher version (DOI)