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Vulnerability of Northeastern U.S. Salt Marshes to Climatic and Anthropogenic Stressors
Watson, E., A. Oczkowski, C. Wigand, A. Hanson, E. Davey, S. Crosby, AND Roxannel Johnson. Vulnerability of Northeastern U.S. Salt Marshes to Climatic and Anthropogenic Stressors. Presented at The Northeastern Natural History Conference, Springfield, MA, April 07 - 09, 2014.
In the Northeastern U.S., salt marsh area is in decline. Habitat change analysis has revealed fragmentation, displacement of high marsh by low marsh species, and marsh drowning, while development of adjacent uplands limits upslope migration. Using inundation experiments, field surveys, and LiDAR datasets, we developed an elevation-productivity relationship for Spartina alterniflora specific to the U.S. Northeast states of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, southern Massachusetts and located current salt marsh orthometric heights on this curve. We determined that 89% of salt marshes in these Northeastern states are located at elevations where growth is limited by inundation, suggesting links between current salt marsh loss patterns and sea level rise. By manipulating water column nutrients, precipitation, and elevation, we further found that altered precipitation receipt was associated with significant reductions in biomass, and that nutrient enrichment adversely impacts organic matter accumulation and peat formation. These results provide evidence that Northeastern U.S. marshes are vulnerable to the effects of accelerated sea level rise, and that neither precipitation changes, nor cultural eutrophication, will contribute positively to long-term salt marsh survival.
The purpose of this presentation is to communicate findings to the broader research community on the resilience of Northeastern coastal wetlands to multiple anthropogenic stressors.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB
ATLANTIC ECOLOGY DIVISION
HABITATS EFFECT BRANCH