Sydney Garden Talk Wednesdays 5-6pm, Saturdays 12-1pm. 2RRR 88.5fm
Feature Interview: Mia Dalby-Ball, ecologist specialising in salt marshes, and river systems.
Saltmarshes are considered to be important coastal habitats because of their role in filtering surface water and run off from land before it enters the estuary and the sea, their contribution to coastal productivity and because they are a source of organic material and nutrients for a wide range of marine communities.Salt marshes are the spongy layers between Mangroves and the land that may occur inland or near the sea.
They support grasses and succulents plants, but also small crabs, about 2-3 cm in size. The spawn from the crabs supports fish called small fry that are an essential food source for the bigger fish and so on up the chain.
Large numbers of crabs burrow in saltmarshes environments. These crabs excavate burrows over large areas in the saltmarsh, changing the physical structure of the environment.
From studies about mangroves and crabs, it’s been found that when the crabs bury the plant material in their burrows, this enhances the efficiency of microbial decomposition in subsurface mangrove sediments..
Crabs in mangroves are recognised for the role to the structure and function of mangrove habitats because of their burrowing and feeding activities, where they are high order predators.
These crabs are important to the foodweb because they process the leaf litter into more palatable forms and so contributing to nutrient recycling.