Coastal salt marshes and mudflats are very valuable habitats. They support a wide range of economically valuable animal and plant species, and act as sites of carbon storage, nutrient recycling, and pollutant capture and destruction. The Coastal Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Sustainability (CBESS) Consortium carried out work during 2012-2016 to improve understanding of how biodiversity links to ecosystem service flows across entire salt marshes or regions of intertidal flat and salt marsh.


Aims and Activities

CBESS combined the detailed study of two regional landscapes with a broad-scale UK-wide study to allow both specific and general conclusions to be drawn.

The regional study compared two areas of great local and national importance for England: Morecambe Bay on the west coast and the Essex Marshes on the east coast. It collected data from both areas on microbe, plant and animal populations in salt marsh and mudflat habitats to determine how biodiversity can provide important ecosystem functions.



The CBESS work resulted in two major outputs plus a number of research publications. The major outputs were:

The Saltmarsh App - a citizen science tool to help interested individuals and groups investigate and record details of their local salt marsh. The free app helps people to identify the plants and animals of salt marshes and they can use it to feed information on plant communities and soils to scientists at Bangor University. Using this flow of data from salt marsh sites the researchers are able to estimate the stored carbon in marsh soils.

Salt marsh carbon stock prediction tool - this allows environmental decision-makers to estimate the amount of carbon held in the top 10cm of soil in a salt marsh. Carbon storage is one of the ecosystem services provided by salt marshes and it can now be quantified through the use of this tool. 


For full details of the activities and outputs of the CBESS Consortium, visit its website


These pages contain the archive of the NERC Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Sustainability (BESS) programme