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Tuesday, October 18 • 4:20pm - 4:40pm
S4. Management of South Atlantic Coastal Impoundments for Waterbirds

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AUTHORS: R. D. Perry, S. C. Department of Natural Resources; D. E. Harrigal, S. C. Department of Natural Resources; R. M. Kaminski, Clemson University; M. R. Kneece, Clemson University; M. B. Prevost, White Oak Forestry Corporation; D. A. Shipes, S. C. Department of Natural Resources; E. P. Wiggers, Nemours Wildlife Foundation; and R. K. Williams, Williams Land Management

ABSTRACT: The landscape of the South Atlantic Coast (SAC) has ecological, environmental, aesthetic and economical values attributed to estuarine systems formed by rivers pulsing nutrients and sediments that created forested and emergent wetlands. Tidal impoundments are special wetlands existing along the SAC as relics of 17th-early 20th-century rice production. Management of these habitats is historically, culturally and economically important to SAC ecosystems and continental waterbirds. Moreover, conservation and management of former rice plantations in the SAC is unique worldwide and vital to habitat protection under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and other landscape conservation initiatives. An intact infrastructure, consisting of embankments and water control structures, (“trunks”) is required for habitat management to allow manipulation of water levels, hydroperiods and salinity – the primary factors influencing estuarine plant communities. We describe effective practices for management of freshwater, brackish and saline wetlands promoting production of native emergent and submersed habitats used preferentially by waterfowl and other waterbirds. Typical coastal impoundment habitat management across salinity zones involve cyclic drawdown, moist-soil management, staged increases and decreases in water levels and seasonal or semi-permanent flooding with circulation. Cross- and within-seasonal water level management are critical in maximizing waterbird use and species diversity. Although high resource value is placed on SAC impoundments, threats to sustainability arise from development, pollution, incompatible recreation and, most importantly, sea-level rise. Adaptive regulatory policies, secure funding sources, additional conservation and programmatic/philosophical shifts are needed to allow coastal impoundments to persist but also migrate managed wetlands inland in response to sea-level rise.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 4:20pm - 4:40pm
Louisiana Room

Attendees (3)