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Sediment dynamics of natural and restored Bolboschoenus maritimus saltmarsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Saltmarshes are biogeomorphic ecosystems comprising halophytic plant communities typically located on low energy temperate coasts. Their distribution and structure are controlled by several key drivers, including sediment supply, type of vegetation, elevation, and local hydrodynamics. These dynamic systems are highly vulnerable and estimated to be experiencing annual losses of 1–2% globally. Past restoration efforts have largely implemented managed realignment strategies, however, examples of, and research on, conservation initiatives employing direct transplantation of saltmarsh vegetation into damaged or receding saltmarsh stands is less common. Here an example of transplantation restoration was investigated to understand its influence on sediment dynamics. Sediment settlement, deposition, and accretion rates of natural and restored vegetation (Bolboschoenus maritimus) and adjacent bare mudflats in a small estuary system were studied across consecutive seasons from summer 2015 to spring 2016 to examine the success of transplantation. Natural areas of B. maritimus were shown to be most effective at retaining deposited material, although experiencing the least amount of deposition (an average of 48 g/m2 per day), accreting by nearly 7.5 mm over the experimental period. Mudflat areas experienced the most deposition (an average of 322 g/m2 per day) whilst exhibiting the greatest erosion over the study, a decrease in level of 6 mm. Restored areas experience similar rates of deposition as their natural counterparts, however, did not retain this material as efficiently, presenting an erosion of 1.6 mm. The study indicates certain biogeomorphic processes have been altered within the restored area and beginning to reflect those of the natural area. However, the restored vegetation does not yet fully match the functionality of the natural B. maritimus stand, specifically where the natural stand displayed a net accretion of material the restored area did not. Such discrepancies may impact on the continued survival of the restoration site, which may have implications for the potential of transplanting to deliver ecosystem services, such as climate change mitigation through carbon burial.
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Original languageEnglish
Article number237
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2019

    Research areas

  • Accretion, Restoration, Saltmarsh, Seasonal, Sediment deposition

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