Vegetation, substrate and hydrology in floating marshes in the Mississippi river delta plain wetlands, USA

Research paper by Charles E. Sasser, James G. Gosselink, Erick M. Swenson, Christopher M. Swarzenski, Nancy C. Leibowitz

Indexed on: 01 Feb '96Published on: 01 Feb '96Published in: Plant Ecology


In the 1940s extensive floating marshes (locally called ‘flotant’) were reported and mapped in coastal wetlands of the Mississippi River Delta Plain. These floating marshes included large areas of Panicum hemitomon-dominated freshwater marshes, and Spartina patens/Scirpus olneyi brackish marshes. Today these marshes appear to be quite different in extent and type. We describe five floating habitats and one non-floating, quaking habitat based on differences in buoyancy dynamics (timing and degree of floating), substrate characteristics, and dominant vegetation. All floating marshes have low bulk density, organic substrates. Nearly all are fresh marshes. Panicum hemitomon floating marshes presently occur within the general regions that were reported in the 1940's by O'Neil, but are reduced in extent. Some of the former Panicum hemitomon marshes have been replaced by seasonally or variably floating marshes dominated, or co-dominated by Sagittaria lancifolia or Eleocharis baldwinii.