Small-scale spatial patterns in abundance on the salt marsh surface were examined by comparing microalgal pigment concentrations and densities of meiofauna and macrofauna between interculm and interplant microhabitats in low-elevation edge natural and created marshes of Galveston Bay, Texas, USA. The interculm microhabitat consisted of sediments located within clusters of Spartina alterniflora culms, and the interplant microhabitat was located between clusters of culms. Paired interculm and interplant sediment samples were taken from 16 marshes in both fall and spring. No significant differences were found in concentrations of chlorophyll a or pheophytin a between microhabitats. The biomass of macroorganic matter was significantly greater in the interculm microhabitat. The meiofauna was dominated by nematodes and the macrofauna by annelid worms and peracarid crustaceans. Mean densities of almost all meiofaunal and macrofaunal taxa were greater in interculm samples, although not all differences were statistically significant. No taxa had significantly greater densities in interplant samples. Although sampling techniques can affect results, these data agree with small-scale distributional data from other low-elevation, salt marsh habitats. The interculm microhabitat should be considered when sampling organisms in salt marshes, as well as the more typically sampled interplant microhabitat. The interculm microhabitat at Galveston occupied between 9.5 and 31.9% of the marsh surface.
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Vol. 21 • No. 4