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Hydrologic modeling as a predictive basis for ecological restoration of salt marshes

Environmental Management

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Abstract

Roads, bridges, causeways, impoundments, and dikes in the coastal zone often restrict tidal flow to salt marsh ecosystems. A dike with tide control structures, located at the mouth of the Herring River salt marsh estuarine system (Wellfleet, Massachusetts) since 1908, has effectively restricted tidal exchange, causing changes in marsh vegetation composition, degraded water quality, and reduced abundance of fish and macroinvertebrate communities. Restoration of this estuary by reintroduction of tidal exchange is a feasible management alternative. However, restoration efforts must proceed with caution as residential dwellings and a golf course are located immediately adjacent to and in places within the tidal wetland. A numerical model was developed to predict tide height levels for numerous alternative openings through the Herring River dike. Given these model predictions and knowledge of elevations of flood-prone areas, it becomes possible to make responsible decisions regarding restoration. Moreover, tidal flooding elevations relative to the wetland surface must be known to predict optimum conditions for ecological recovery. The tide height model has a universal role, as demonstrated by successful application at a nearby salt marsh restoration site in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Salt marsh restoration is a valuable management tool toward maintaining and enhancing coastal zone habitat diversity. The tide height model presented in this paper will enable both scientists and resource professionals to assign a degree of predictability when designing salt marsh restoration programs.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Hydrologic modeling as a predictive basis for ecological restoration of salt marshes
Series title:
Environmental Management
Volume
19
Issue:
4
Year Published:
1995
Language:
English
Contributing office(s):
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description:
559-566
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Environmental Management
First page:
559
Last page:
566
Number of Pages:
8