Buffering Wave Buffers: Implications for Accelerating Restoration Efforts in the Marsh-Mangrove Ecotone

Author(s): Macy, A.; Cebrian, J.; Cherry, J.

With milder winter temperatures, the black mangrove Avicennia germinans has been expanding its range poleward into temperate salt marshes, forming an ecotone of mixed vegetation between two ecosystem-defining vegetations (Mangrove forest and Spartina salt marsh). In stable conditions, Avicennia outcompetes Spartina alterniflora, while occasional disturbances favor Spartina. Restoration efforts along the northern Gulf of Mexico will need to account for these interspecies interactions, and understanding stress tolerance thresholds of the climax species (Avicennia) in the field may offer an accelerated path to ecosystem stability and faster return on ecosystem services. I will transplant two groups of seedlings, aged 6-12 months old and 18-24 months old, into high and low energy wave environments. There are several created wetland areas in Bayou Lafourche (LA) dominated by early stages of wetland colonizatio (i.e. Spartina alterniflora). Spartina has been suggested as a wave buffer f Avicennia, aiding in the succession to an Avicennia-dominated system, so treatments will also include areas where Spartina has been clipped. Finally, fertilizer will be applied to half the plots to stimulate a decrease in the root: shoot ratio, possibly making Avicennia more vulnerable to uprooting from waves. Project scheduled to start this summer.

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