'Blue Carbon' and Nutrient Stocks of Salt Marshes at a Temperate Coastal Lagoon (Ria de Aveiro, Portugal).
ABSTRACT: Ria de Aveiro is a mesotidal coastal lagoon with one of the largest continuous salt marshes in Europe. The objective of this work was to assess C, N and P stocks of Spartina maritima (low marsh pioneer halophyte) and Juncus maritimus (representative of mid-high marsh halophytes) combined with the contribution of Halimione portulacoides, Sarcocornia perennis, and Bolbochenous maritimus to the lagoon ?4400?ha marsh area. A multivariate analysis (PCO), taking into account environmental variables and the annual biomass and nutrient dynamics, showed that there are no clear seasonal or spatial differences within low or mid-high marshes, but clearly separates J. maritimus and S. maritima marshes. Calculations of C, N and P stocks in the biomass of the five most representative halophytes plus the respective rhizosediment (25?cm depth), and taking into account their relative coverage, represents 252053?Mg C, 38100?Mg N and 7563?Mg P. Over 90% of the stocks are found within mid-high marshes. This work shows the importance of this lagoon's salt marshes on climate and nutrients regulation, and defines the current condition concerning the 'blue carbon' and nutrient stocks, as a basis for prospective future scenarios of salt marsh degradation or loss, namely under SLR context.
Project description:Salt marshes provide a bulwark against sea-level rise (SLR), an interface between aquatic and terrestrial habitats, important nursery grounds for many species, a buffer against extreme storm impacts, and vast blue carbon repositories. However, salt marshes are at risk of loss from a variety of stressors such as SLR, nutrient enrichment, sediment deficits, herbivory, and anthropogenic disturbances. Determining the dynamics of salt marsh change with remote sensing requires high temporal resolution due to the spectral variability caused by disturbance, tides, and seasonality. Time series analysis of salt marshes can broaden our understanding of these changing environments. This study analyzed aboveground green biomass (AGB) in seven mid-Atlantic Hydrological Unit Code 8 (HUC-8) watersheds. The study revealed that the Eastern Lower Delmarva watershed had the highest average loss and the largest net reduction in salt marsh AGB from 1999-2018. The study developed a method that used Google Earth Engine (GEE) enabled time series of the Landsat archive for regional analysis of salt marsh change and identified at-risk watersheds and salt marshes providing insight into the resilience and management of these ecosystems. The time series were filtered by cloud cover and the Tidal Marsh Inundation Index (TMII). The combination of GEE enabled Landsat time series, and TMII filtering demonstrated a promising method for historic assessment and continued monitoring of salt marsh dynamics.
Project description:Tidal channel networks mediate the exchange of water, nutrients and sediment between an estuary and marshes. Biology feeds back into channel morphodynamics through the influence of vegetation on both flow and the cohesive strength of channel banks. Determining how vegetation affects channel networks is essential in understanding the biological functioning of intertidal ecosystems and their ecosystem services. However, the processes that control the formation of an efficient tidal channel network remain unclear. Here we compare the channel networks of vegetated salt marshes in Massachusetts and the Venice Lagoon to unvegetated systems in the arid environments of the Gulf of California and Yemen. We find that the unvegetated systems are dissected by less efficient channel networks than the vegetated salt marshes. These differences in network geometry reflect differences in the branching and meandering of the channels in the network, characteristics that are related to the density of vegetation on the marsh.
Project description:Salt marsh losses have been documented worldwide because of land use change, wave erosion, and sea-level rise. It is still unclear how resistant salt marshes are to extreme storms and whether they can survive multiple events without collapsing. Based on a large dataset of salt marsh lateral erosion rates collected around the world, here, we determine the general response of salt marsh boundaries to wave action under normal and extreme weather conditions. As wave energy increases, salt marsh response to wind waves remains linear, and there is not a critical threshold in wave energy above which salt marsh erosion drastically accelerates. We apply our general formulation for salt marsh erosion to historical wave climates at eight salt marsh locations affected by hurricanes in the United States. Based on the analysis of two decades of data, we find that violent storms and hurricanes contribute less than 1% to long-term salt marsh erosion rates. In contrast, moderate storms with a return period of 2.5 mo are those causing the most salt marsh deterioration. Therefore, salt marshes seem more susceptible to variations in mean wave energy rather than changes in the extremes. The intrinsic resistance of salt marshes to violent storms and their predictable erosion rates during moderate events should be taken into account by coastal managers in restoration projects and risk management plans.
Project description:In addition to the largest existing expanse of tropical forests, the Brazilian Amazon has among the largest area of mangroves in the world. While recognized as important global carbon sinks that, when disturbed, are significant sources of greenhouse gases, no studies have quantified the carbon stocks of these vast mangrove forests. In this paper, we quantified total ecosystem carbon stocks of mangroves and salt marshes east of the mouth of the Amazon River, Brazil. Mean ecosystem carbon stocks of the salt marshes were 257 Mg C ha-1 while those of mangroves ranged from 361 to 746 Mg C ha-1 Although aboveground mass was high relative to many other mangrove forests (145 Mg C ha-1), soil carbon stocks were relatively low (340 Mg C ha-1). Low soil carbon stocks may be related to coarse textured soils coupled with a high tidal range. Nevertheless, the carbon stocks of the Amazon mangroves were over twice those of upland evergreen forests and almost 10-fold those of tropical dry forests.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Salt marshes lie between many human communities and the coast and have been presumed to protect these communities from coastal hazards by providing important ecosystem services. However, previous characterizations of these ecosystem services have typically been based on a small number of historical studies, and the consistency and extent to which marshes provide these services has not been investigated. Here, we review the current evidence for the specific processes of wave attenuation, shoreline stabilization and floodwater attenuation to determine if and under what conditions salt marshes offer these coastal protection services. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We conducted a thorough search and synthesis of the literature with reference to these processes. Seventy-five publications met our selection criteria, and we conducted meta-analyses for publications with sufficient data available for quantitative analysis. We found that combined across all studies (n?=?7), salt marsh vegetation had a significant positive effect on wave attenuation as measured by reductions in wave height per unit distance across marsh vegetation. Salt marsh vegetation also had a significant positive effect on shoreline stabilization as measured by accretion, lateral erosion reduction, and marsh surface elevation change (n?=?30). Salt marsh characteristics that were positively correlated to both wave attenuation and shoreline stabilization were vegetation density, biomass production, and marsh size. Although we could not find studies quantitatively evaluating floodwater attenuation within salt marshes, there are several studies noting the negative effects of wetland alteration on water quantity regulation within coastal areas. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Our results show that salt marshes have value for coastal hazard mitigation and climate change adaptation. Because we do not yet fully understand the magnitude of this value, we propose that decision makers employ natural systems to maximize the benefits and ecosystem services provided by salt marshes and exercise caution when making decisions that erode these services.
Project description:Australia's tidal marshes have suffered significant losses but their recently recognised importance in CO2 sequestration is creating opportunities for their protection and restoration. We compiled all available data on soil organic carbon (OC) storage in Australia's tidal marshes (323 cores). OC stocks in the surface 1?m averaged 165.41 (SE 6.96) Mg OC ha-1 (range 14-963 Mg OC ha-1). The mean OC accumulation rate was 0.55?±?0.02 Mg OC ha-1 yr-1. Geomorphology was the most important predictor of OC stocks, with fluvial sites having twice the stock of OC as seaward sites. Australia's 1.4 million hectares of tidal marshes contain an estimated 212 million tonnes of OC in the surface 1?m, with a potential CO2-equivalent value of $USD7.19 billion. Annual sequestration is 0.75 Tg OC yr-1, with a CO2-equivalent value of $USD28.02 million per annum. This study provides the most comprehensive estimates of tidal marsh blue carbon in Australia, and illustrates their importance in climate change mitigation and adaptation, acting as CO2 sinks and buffering the impacts of rising sea level. We outline potential further development of carbon offset schemes to restore the sequestration capacity and other ecosystem services provided by Australia tidal marshes.
Project description:As saltmarsh habitat continues to disappear, understanding the factors that influence saltmarsh breeding bird population dynamics is an important step for the conservation of these declining species. Using five years (2011 - 2015) of demographic data, we evaluated and compared Seaside (Ammodramus maritimus) and Saltmarsh (A. caudacutus) sparrow apparent adult survival and nest survival at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey, USA. We determined the effect of site management history (unditched vs. ditched marsh) on adult and nest survival to aid in prioritizing future management or restoration actions. Seaside Sparrow apparent adult survival (61.6%, 95% CI: 52.5 - 70.0%) averaged >1.5 times greater than Saltmarsh Sparrow apparent adult survival (39.9%, 95% CI: 34.0 - 46.2%). Nest survival and predation and flooding rates did not differ between species, and predation was the primary cause of failure for both species. Apparent adult survival and nest survival did not differ between unditched and ditched marshes for either species, indicating that marsh ditching history may not affect breeding habitat quality for these species. With predation as the primary cause of nest failure for both species in New Jersey, we suggest that future research should focus on identification of predator communities in salt marshes and the potential for implementing predator-control programs to limit population declines.
Project description:Tidal marshes maintain elevation relative to sea level through accumulation of mineral and organic matter, yet this dynamic accumulation feedback mechanism has not been modeled widely in the context of accelerated sea-level rise. Uncertainties exist about tidal marsh resiliency to accelerated sea-level rise, reduced sediment supply, reduced plant productivity under increased inundation, and limited upland habitat for marsh migration. We examined marsh resiliency under these uncertainties using the Marsh Equilibrium Model, a mechanistic, elevation-based soil cohort model, using a rich data set of plant productivity and physical properties from sites across the estuarine salinity gradient. Four tidal marshes were chosen along this gradient: two islands and two with adjacent uplands. Varying century sea-level rise (52, 100, 165, 180 cm) and suspended sediment concentrations (100%, 50%, and 25% of current concentrations), we simulated marsh accretion across vegetated elevations for 100 years, applying the results to high spatial resolution digital elevation models to quantify potential changes in marsh distributions. At low rates of sea-level rise and mid-high sediment concentrations, all marshes maintained vegetated elevations indicative of mid/high marsh habitat. With century sea-level rise at 100 and 165 cm, marshes shifted to low marsh elevations; mid/high marsh elevations were found only in former uplands. At the highest century sea-level rise and lowest sediment concentrations, the island marshes became dominated by mudflat elevations. Under the same sediment concentrations, low salinity brackish marshes containing highly productive vegetation had slower elevation loss compared to more saline sites with lower productivity. A similar trend was documented when comparing against a marsh accretion model that did not model vegetation feedbacks. Elevation predictions using the Marsh Equilibrium Model highlight the importance of including vegetation responses to sea-level rise. These results also emphasize the importance of adjacent uplands for long-term marsh survival and incorporating such areas in conservation planning efforts.
Project description:Salt marshes are highly effective carbon (C) sinks and have higher rates of soil C burial (per square meter) than terrestrial ecosystems. Marsh reclamation and anthropogenic impacts, however, have resulted in extensive losses of salt marshes. Restoration of marshes drained and "reclaimed" for agriculture (referred to in Canada as dykelands) and degraded marshes can generate C credits, but only if C burial is reliably quantified. To date, studies reporting on C burial rates have been limited primarily to restored marshes which are more than 10 years old. Here we report on a study which assessed C burial six years after the return of tidal flooding to a section of dykeland in Aulac, New Brunswick on Canada's Bay of Fundy. The C burial rate in the restored marsh averaged 1 329 g C m-2 yr-1, more than five times the rate reported for a nearby mature marsh. Carbon density in the recovering marsh was relatively consistent with depth and although salt marsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) became established in 2012, the bulk of the C in the new marsh deposit is assumed to be allochthonous. Financial constraints are a barrier to marsh restoration projects and C markets could provide a considerable source of funding for restoration work in the future. For marsh restoration projects to be recognized in C crediting systems, however, it must also be demonstrated that the allochthonous C would not otherwise have been sequestered; the potential for this is discussed.
Project description:Tidal marshes will be threatened by increasing rates of sea-level rise (SLR) over the next century. Managers seek guidance on whether existing and restored marshes will be resilient under a range of potential future conditions, and on prioritizing marsh restoration and conservation activities.Building upon established models, we developed a hybrid approach that involves a mechanistic treatment of marsh accretion dynamics and incorporates spatial variation at a scale relevant for conservation and restoration decision-making. We applied this model to San Francisco Bay, using best-available elevation data and estimates of sediment supply and organic matter accumulation developed for 15 Bay subregions. Accretion models were run over 100 years for 70 combinations of starting elevation, mineral sediment, organic matter, and SLR assumptions. Results were applied spatially to evaluate eight Bay-wide climate change scenarios.Model results indicated that under a high rate of SLR (1.65 m/century), short-term restoration of diked subtidal baylands to mid marsh elevations (-0.2 m MHHW) could be achieved over the next century with sediment concentrations greater than 200 mg/L. However, suspended sediment concentrations greater than 300 mg/L would be required for 100-year mid marsh sustainability (i.e., no elevation loss). Organic matter accumulation had minimal impacts on this threshold. Bay-wide projections of marsh habitat area varied substantially, depending primarily on SLR and sediment assumptions. Across all scenarios, however, the model projected a shift in the mix of intertidal habitats, with a loss of high marsh and gains in low marsh and mudflats.Results suggest a bleak prognosis for long-term natural tidal marsh sustainability under a high-SLR scenario. To minimize marsh loss, we recommend conserving adjacent uplands for marsh migration, redistributing dredged sediment to raise elevations, and concentrating restoration efforts in sediment-rich areas. To assist land managers, we developed a web-based decision support tool (www.prbo.org/sfbayslr).