Thesis

Facilitating ecological recovery of a salt marsh restoration site through active revegetation

With the predicted acceleration of sea level rise in the mid-21st century, salt marsh restoration efforts are faced with the challenge of building and maintaining sufficient sediment to elevations that support vegetation. The highly subsided Sears Point restoration site uses a novel technique involving the construction of earthen mounds to support sediment accretion; however, the mounds are rapidly eroding. I planted mounds using native Spartina foliosa, and I hypothesized that S. foliosa would stabilize sediments and lead to sediment accretion, while changes to soil due to S. foliosa presence would foster development of soil invertebrate communities. Results show that S. foliosa is able to stabilize sediments and reduce erosion compared to controls over time, with the highest-density plantings providing the most protection. Further, significant increases in macro-organic matter and trends in some invertebrate measures suggest active revegetation will facilitate marsh community development.

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