Marsh terracing and coconut fiber mats are two wetland restoration techniques implemented at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana, USA. Using nekton as an indicator of habitat quality, nekton community assemblages were compared between terraced, coconut-matted, unmanaged marsh (restoration goal), and open water (pre-restoration) habitats. Using a throw trap and a 3 m ?? 2 m straight seine, 192 nekton samples were collected over four dates in 2001 and 2002 at all habitats. Nekton abundance was similar at unmanaged marsh (restoration goal), coconut mat, and terrace edge, and significantly higher than at open water (pre-restoration) sites (P < 0.05). Coconut-matted habitat and unmanaged marsh edges had significantly higher numbers of benthic dependent species than terrace edges (P < 0.05), potentially because of differences in substrate. Terraced sites had lower organic matter and siltier substrate as compared to unmanaged marsh sites. At Sabine NWR, terracing increased nekton use as compared to pre-restoration conditions (open water samples) by providing marsh edge habitat, but failed to support a nekton community similar to unmanaged marsh (restoration goals) or coconut-matted sites. Future restoration projects may evaluate the combined use of coconut mats with terracing projects in order to enhance habitat for benthic dependent nekton.
Additional publication details
Evaluation of nekton use and habitat characteristics of restored Louisiana marsh