Development of a multimetric index for integrated assessment of salt marsh ecosystem condition

Estuaries and Coasts
By: , and 



Tools for assessing and communicating salt marsh condition are essential to guide decisions aimed at maintaining or restoring ecosystem integrity and services. Multimetric indices (MMIs) are increasingly used to provide integrated assessments of ecosystem condition. We employed a theory-based approach that considers the multivariate relationship of metrics with human disturbance to construct a salt marsh MMI for five National Parks in the northeastern USA. We quantified the degree of human disturbance for each marsh using the first principal component score from a principal components analysis of physical, chemical, and land use stressors. We then applied a metric selection algorithm to different combinations of about 45 vegetation and nekton metrics (e.g., species abundance, species richness, and ecological and functional classifications) derived from multi-year monitoring data. While MMIs derived from nekton or vegetation metrics alone were strongly correlated with human disturbance (r values from −0.80 to −0.93), an MMI derived from both vegetation and nekton metrics yielded an exceptionally strong correlation with disturbance (r = −0.96). Individual MMIs included from one to five metrics. The metric-assembly algorithm yielded parsimonious MMIs that exhibit the greatest possible correlations with disturbance in a way that is objective, efficient, and reproducible.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Development of a multimetric index for integrated assessment of salt marsh ecosystem condition
Series title Estuaries and Coasts
DOI 10.1007/s12237-017-0293-3
Volume 41
Issue 2
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 15 p.
First page 334
Last page 348
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details