Field mapping and monitoring of vegetation, sedimentation patterns, substrate characteristics, and geomorphology in the Bush River tributary to upper Chesapeake Bay has been conducted since 1991 to ascertain the process-morphology dynamics in a tidal freshwater marsh. Nine plant associations from 5 distinct marsh habitats were identified by clustering species abundance measurements from 115 quadrats throughout an 84-hectare area. High spatial variability in physical habitat conditions such as summer-average sediment deposition, summer-average organic content, and surface-sediment grain size distributions were explainable using combinations of independent variables, including elevation, plant distributions, and distances to the tidal inlet and an adjacent stream. Sedimentation and vegetation were both observed to show a predictable response to disturbance by animal activity.
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Vol. 20 • No. 3