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Tuesday, October 18 • 3:40pm - 4:00pm
S4. Constructed marsh terraces: benefits to fish, wildlife, and coastal sustainability

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AUTHORS: Michael G. Brasher, Ducks Unlimited Inc., Gulf Coast Joint Venture

ABSTRACT: The extent and rate of coastal wetland loss in the northern Gulf of Mexico are the highest observed throughout the conterminous U.S. In response, numerous techniques have been developed to help slow these losses and restore productive coastal wetlands. Marsh terracing is a relatively new technique and has become a common feature of coastal restoration efforts in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Marsh terraces are segmented ridges of bare soil and emergent marsh constructed from excavated subtidal substrates in shallow, open water areas. They function by reducing fetch and wave energy, which is believed to help create emergent marsh, reduce shoreline erosion, increase growth of submerged aquatic vegetation, and ultimately increase habitat quality for marsh-dependent organisms. However, the efficacy of marsh terraces in achieving their intended objectives remains uncertain, largely due to a lack of rigorous evaluations, which has led to their de-emphasis in some coastal restoration programs and projects. I conducted a literature review to ascertain and summarize current knowledge and remaining gaps in our understanding of the benefits of marsh terraces. Available information provided general support for the effectiveness of marsh terraces, although the magnitude and consistency of benefits varied greatly among objectives. Benefits were most evident for improving nekton habitat, but were more variable for improving waterbird habitat, reducing shoreline erosion, and creating emergent marsh outside the terrace footprints. Recommendations are provided for additional scientific investigations that are needed to definitively assess the benefits of marsh terraces and appropriately inform decisions about their design and application.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 3:40pm - 4:00pm
Louisiana Room

Attendees (5)