Biologists monitoring restored wetlands on Poplar Island in the Chesapeake Bay were recently surprised when they discovered saltmarsh periwinkles. What’s so exciting about this find is that previous monitoring at two created wetlands located on Poplar Island did not show much invertebrate activity in these marshes as compared to mainland marshes. Until now, invertebrates such as periwinkles had not been documented in the created marshes.
Now that the wetland habitats are beginning to mature, they are beginning to attract typical saltmarsh invertebrate species such periwinkles. Periwinkles are snails commonly found in the intertidal zone of brackish and saltwater marshes. Because they are air breathers, they are often found during periods of high water above the waterline on stems of saltmarsh cordgrass. They are a crucial component of the ecosystem, feeding on detritus (decaying matter) and algae and are an important source of food for waterbirds, crabs, and fish.
In addition to periwinkles, biologists have recorded over 130 bird species at the site, 19 of which have been documented as nesting. Commonly observed birds include: osprey, egrets, herons, cormorants, terns, and several waterfowl species. All of these species utilize the wetlands and adjacent waters for foraging, resting, and/or nesting.
In addition to monitoring plant growth and wildlife use in the wetlands, biologists are also focusing on colonial waterbird nesting management, wildlife disease response, nuisance wildlife management and habitat management/development. Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) beds in the shallow waters around the island are being monitored for growth and wildlife use.
Chesapeake Bay Field Office
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
177 Admiral Cochrane Drive
Annapolis MD 21401
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