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.
KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-07-18
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): FCC/1/1973-2056-01, REI/1/4483-01-01
Acknowledgements: We are grateful for the encouragement and feedback from several anonymous reviewers as well as the editors that helped to improve and strengthen this manuscript. DDC was supported by the Delta Stewardship Council and California Sea Grant through a Delta Science Fellowship (62034). DD was financially supported by King Abdullah University and Technology (KAUST) through project FCC/1/1973-2056-01 of the Red Sea Research Center and the Circular Carbon Economy Initiative, grant number REI/1/4483-01-01. LC was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, grant number NSFC/42076176. JLR was supported by the Nelson Mandela University and the DSI/NRF Research Chair in Shallow Water Ecosystems (UID: 84375). LS was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), grant number 20-54-71002 Arctic.