Altered hydrology effects on Louisiana salt marsh function

  • Kuhn N
  • Mendelssohn I
  • Reed D
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A marsh subject to "structural marsh management," which changes natural wetland hydrology, was found to be functionally impaired when compared to an adjacent unimpounded reference marsh. The "managed" marsh had much lower sedimentation rates and tidal amplitude. Also, net annual primary pro- duction was lower in the managed marsh relative to the reference marsh. In light of the great importance of sedimentation, as well as primary production, to vertical accretion and maintenance of the salt marsh surface, our findings support the contention that structural marsh management (SMM) inhibits marsh surface accre- tion. Even so, much of the Louisiana coast has been proposed for this form of management in an effort to protect it from loss. However, our results show such management activities in the salt marsh could likely increase sediment aggradation deficits and wetland loss, especially in areas subject to high rates of subsidence or sea-level rise, such as Louisiana. Further research is needed to evaluate whether the results shown here are typical for saline SMM sites. In the absence of such research, the u~e of SMM in salt marshes is not presently

Author-supplied keywords

  • Hydrology
  • Land loss
  • Restoration
  • Sediment
  • Structural marsh management

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