We combined literature reviews with an analysis of regional cartography, aerial photographs, and satellite images to identify the locations of heretofore-unknown salt marshes along the Patagonian coastline of Argentina. Subsequent ground surveys confirmed the presence of the marshes. While numerous sites still require verification, our surveys confirmed the existence of 27 large coastal salt marshes, which had estimated areas of between 3 and 2400 ha distributed along ∼225 km of coastline. We described the major patterns of landscape physiognomy and community structure at eight of these sites. We classified these marshes as either muddy or rocky marshes, and subdivided them into Spartina and Sarcocornia marshes depending on the dominant vegetation. Muddy marshes were the most common type and showed a clear regional pattern with Spartina-dominated communities in the north (≤ 42°S) and Sarcocornia-dominated systems in the south (≥ 42°S). Plant height and standing crop biomass tended to be lower at higher latitudes, but plant cover showed the opposite trend. Spartina marshes had a more diverse marine macro-invertebrate fauna than Sarcocornia marshes, when the two marsh types occur at similar latitudes. Although the diversity of invertebrates was relatively low along the entire latitudinal range, most marshes supported unique species assemblages.
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Vol. 29 • No. 2