An important factor contributing to the deterioration of wetland forests in Louisiana is increasing water levels resulting from eustatic sea-level rise and subsidence. Analyses of long-term water level records from the Barataria and Verret watersheds in southeastern Louisiana indicate an apparent sea level rise of about 1-m per century, mainly the result of subsidence. Permanent study plots were established in cypress-tupelo stands in these two watersheds. The tree, water level, and subsidence data collected in these plots were entered into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servicea??s FORFLO bottomland hardwood succession model to determine the long-term effects of rising water levels on forest structure. Analyses were made of 50a??100 years for a cypress-tupelo swamp site in each basin and a bottomland hardwood ridge in the Verret watershed. As flooding increased, less flood tolerant species were replaced by cypress-tupelo within 50 years. As flooding continued, the sites start to become nonforested. From the test analyses, the FORFLO model seems to be an excellent tool for predicting long-term changes in the swamp habitat of south Louisiana.
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Rising water levels and the future of southeastern Louisiana swamp forests