Document Type


Publication Date



Annual carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus leachate rates from live Spartina alterniflora Loisel in a Louisiana (USA) salt marsh were estimated to be 200, 14, and 3 g m-2, respectively, and to peak in summer and higher salinit~es. Leachate losses of P, N and C are equivalent to a turnover of live plant tissues of 10, 17 and 49 d, respectively, when submerged, and 148, 250 and 721 d, respectively, when unsubmerged. Plant leachate losses during marsh submergence and non-submergence are nearly equal because release rates are 15x greater during submergence. Nitrogen and carbon concentrations relative to phosphorus are proportionately 4x higher in leachates than in live plant tissues. The amounts released are high enough to account for measured seasonal changes in the heterotrophic rates of the estuarine plankton community. Leachates appear to be an underappreciated yet significant nutrient and carbon source for salt marsh food webs, and of potential widespread significance for many other estuarine communities.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Marine Ecology Progress Series

First Page


Last Page


Included in

Oceanography Commons