Surface elevation dynamics in vegetatedSpartina marshes versus unvegetated tidal ponds along the Mid-Atlantic coast, USA, with implications to waterbirds
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
Mid Atlantic coastal salt marshes contain a matrix of vegetation diversified by tidal pools, pannes, and creeks, providing habitats of varying importance to many species of breeding, migrating, and wintering waterbirds. We hypothesized that changes in marsh elevation were not sufficient to keep pace with those of sea level in both vegetated and unvegetatedSpartina alterniflora sites at a number of mid lagoon marsh areas along the Atlantic Coast. We also predicted that northern areas would suffer less of a deficit than would southern sites. Beginning in August 1998, we installed surface elevation tables at study sites on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, southern New Jersey, and two locations along Virginia's eastern shore. We compared these elevation changes over the 4–4.5 yr record with the long-term (>50 yr) tidal records for each locale. We also collected data on waterbird use of these sites during all seasons of the year, based on ground surveys and replicated surveys from observation platforms. Three patterns of marsh elevation change were found. At Nauset Marsh, Cape Cod, theSpartina marsh surface tracked the pond surface, both keeping pace with regional sea-level rise rates. In New Jersey, the ponds are becoming deeper while marsh surface elevation remains unchanged from the initial reading. This may result in a submergence of the marsh in the future, assuming sea-level rise continues at current rates. Ponds at both Virginia sites are filling in, while marsh surface elevation rates do not seem to be keeping pace with local sea-level rise. An additional finding at all sites was that subsidence in the vegetated marsh surfaces was less than in unvegetated areas, reflecting the importance of the root mat in stabilizing sediments. The implications to migratory waterbirds are significant. Submergence of much of the lagoonal marsh area in Virginia and New Jersey over the next century could have major negative (i.e., flooding) effects on nesting populations of marsh-dependent seaside sparrowsAmmodramus maritimus, saltmarsh sharp-tailed sparrowsAmmodramus caudacutus, black railsLaterallus jamaicensis, clapper railsRallus longirostris. Forster's ternsSterna forsteri, common ternsSterna hirundo, and gull-billed ternsSterna nilotica. Although short-term inundation of many lagoonal marshes may benefit some open-water feeding ducks, geese, and swans during winter, the long-term ecosystem effects may be detrimental, as wildlife resources will be lost or displaced. With the reduction in area of emergent marsh, estuarine secondary productivity and biotic diversity will also be reduced.
- Aubrey, D. G. andP. E. Speer. 1985. A study of non-linear tidal propagation in shallow in let estuarine systems. 1. Observations.Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 21:185–205. CrossRef
- Bellrose, F. C. 1976. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America, 2nd edition. Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
- Bertness, M. 1999. The Ecology of Atlantic Shorelines, 1st edition, Sinauer Associates. Sunderland, Massachusetts.
- Boumans, R. M. andJ. W. Day, Jr., 1993. High precision measurements of sediment elevation in shallow coastal areas using a sedimentation-erosion table.Estuaries 16:375–380. CrossRef
- Brown, S., C. Hickey, andB. Harrington (eds.). 2000. United States Shorebird Conservation Plan, 1st edition. Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Manomet, Massachusetts.
- Burger, J. 1984. Abiotic factors affecting migrant, shorebirds, p. 1–73.In J. Burger and B. Olla (eds.), Shorebirds: Migration and Foraging Behavior, Behavior of Marine Animals, Volume 6. Plenum Press, New York.
- Cahoon, D. R., J. W. Day, Jr., andD. Reed. 1999. The influence of surface and shallow subsurface soil processes on wetland elevation: A synthesis.Current Topics in Wetland Biogeochemistry 3:72–88.
- Cahoon, D. R., M. A. Ford, andP. F. Hensel. 2004. Ecogeomorphology ofSpartina patens-dominated tidal marshes: Soil organic matter accumulation, marsh elevation dynamics, and disturbance, p. 247–266.In S. Fagherazzi, M. Marani, and L. K. Blum (eds.), The Ecogeomorphology of Tidal Marshes, Coastal Estuaries Studies, Volume 59. American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C.
- Cahoon, D. R., P. Hensel, J. Rybczyk, K. L. McKee, E. Proffitt, andB. C. Perez. 2003. Mass tree mortality leads to mangrove peat collapse at Bay Islands, Honduras after Hurricane Mitch.Journal of Ecology 91:1093–1105. CrossRef
- Cahoon, D. R., J. C. Lynch, P. Hensel, R. Boumans, B. C. Perez, B. Segura, andJ. W. Day, Jr. 2002. High-precision measurements of wetland sediment elevation: I. Recent improvements to the sedimentation-erosion table.Journal of Sedimentary Research 72:730–733. CrossRef
- Cahoon, D. R., J. C. Lynch, andR. M. Knaus. 1996. Improved cryogenic coring device for sampling wetland soils.Journal of Sedimentary Research 66:1025–1027.
- Cahoon, D. R. andD. J. Reed. 1995. Relationships among marsh surface topography, hydroperiod, and soil accretion in a deteriorating Louisiana salt marsh.Journal of Coastal Research 11:357–369.
- Cahoon, D. R., D. J. Reed, andJ. W. Day, Jr. 1995. Estimating shallow subsidence in microtidal salt marshes of the southeastern United States: Kaye and Barghoorn revisited.Marine Geology 128:1–9. CrossRef
- Cahoon, D. R. andR. E. Turner. 1989. Accretion and canal impacts in a rapidly subsiding wetland: II. Feldspar marker horizon technique.Estuaries 12:260–268. CrossRef
- Callaway, J. C., J. A. Nyman, andR. D. Delaune. 1996. Sediment accretion in coastal wetlands: A review and a simulation model of processes.Current Topics in Wetland Biogeochemistry 2:2–23.
- Chabreck, R. A. 1988. Coastal Marshes: Ecology and Wildlife Management, 1st edition. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- Christansen, T. 1998. Sediment deposition on a tidal salt marsh Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Virginia, Charlottesville Virginia.
- Emery, K. O. andD. G. Aubrey. 1991. Sea Levels, Land Levels, and Tide Gauges, 1st edition. Springer-Verlag, New York.
- Erwin, R. M., G. M. Sanders, andD. J. Prosser. 2004. Changes in lagoonal marsh morphology at selected northeastern Atlantic coast sites of significance to migratory waterbirds.Wetlands 24:891–903. CrossRef
- Erwin, R. M., G. M. Sanders, D. J. Prosser andD. R. Cahoon. 2006. High tides and rising seas: Potential effects on estuarine waterbirds.In R. Greenberg, J. Maldonado, S. Droege, and M. V. McDonald (eds.) Vertebrates of Tidal Marshes: Ecology, Evolution and Conservation. Studies in Avian Biology. Allen Press, Lawrence, Kansas,In press.
- Galbraith, H., R. Jones, R. Park, J. Clough, S. Herrod-Julius, B. Harrington, andG. Page. 2002. Global climate change and sea level rise: Potential losses of intertidal habitat for shorebirds.Waterbirds 25:173–183. CrossRef
- Giorgi, F., B. Hewitson, J. Christiansen, M. Hulme, H. Von Storch, P. Whetton, R. Jones, L. Mearns, andC. Fu. 2001. Regional climate information—Evaluation and projections, p. 583–638.In J. T. Houghton, Y. Ding, D. J. Griggs, M. Noguer, P. J. van der Linden, X. Dai, K. Maskell, and C. A. Johnson (eds.), The Scientific Basis. Contributions of Working Group I to the Thrid Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press U.K.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2001. Summary for Policymakers: Climate Change 2001. Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Geneva, Switzerland.
- Kearney, M. S., J. C. Stevenson, andL. G. Ward. 1994. Spatial and temporal changes in marsh vertical accretion rates at Monie Bay: Implications for sea level rise.Journal of Coastal Research 10:1010–1020.
- Longcore, J., D. McAuley, G. Hepp, and J. Rhymer. 2000. American Black Duck. The Birds of North America, No. 481, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.
- Mitchell, L., S. Gabrey, P. P. Marra, andR. M. Erwin. 2006. Impacts of marsh management on salt marsh birds.In R. Greenberg, J. Maldonado, S. Droege, and M. V. McDonald (eds.), Vertebrates of Tidal Marshes: Ecology, Evolution and Conservation. Studies in Avian Biology. Allen Press, Lawrence, Kansas.In press.
- Mitsch, W. J. andJ. G. Gosselink. 1993. Wetlands, 2nd edition. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York.
- Nicholls, R. andS. Leatherman. 1996. Adapting to sea-level rise: Relative sea-level trends to 2100 for the United States.Coastal Management 24:301–324.
- Nichols, J. D., J. E. Hines, J. R. Sauer, F. W. Fallon, J. E. Fallon, andP. J. Heglund. 2000. A double-observer approach for estimating detection probability and abundance in avian point counts.Auk 117:393–408. CrossRef
- Ott, R. L. 1993. An Introduction to Statistical Methods and Data Analysis, 1st edition. Duxbury Press, Belmont, California.
- Palmer, R. S. (ed.), 1976. Handbook of North American Birds: Volume 2, Waterfowl. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut.
- Pethick, J. S. 1981. Long-term accretion rates on tidal marshes.Journal of Sedimentary Petrology 61:571–577.
- Reid, W. V. andM. C. Trexler. 1992. Responding to potential impacts of climate change on U.S. coastal diversity.Coastal Management 20:117–142.
- Roman, C. T., J. A. Peck, J. R. Allen, J. W. King, andP. G. Appleby. 1997. Accretion of a New England (U.S.A.) salt marsh in response to inlet migration, storms, and sea-level rise.Easturine Coastal and Shelf Science 45:717–727. CrossRef
- Rottenborn, S. 1996. The use of coastal agricultural fields in Virginia as foraging habitat by shorebirds.Wilson Bulletin 108:783–796.
- Rybczyk, J. andD. R. Cahoon. 2002. Estimating the potential for submergence for two wetlands in the Mississippi, River delta.Estuaries 25:985–998. CrossRef
- SAS Institute. 2000. SAS/STAT user's Guide, Version 8. SAS Institute, Inc., Cary, North Carolina.
- Titus, J. G. (ed.). 1988. Greenhouse effects, sea level rise, and coastal wetlands. U.S. Government Printing Office, EPA-230-05-86-013. Washington, D.C.
- Titus, J. G. 1991. Greenhouse effect and coastal wetland policy: How Americans could abandon an area the size of Massachusetts.Environmental Management 15:39–58. CrossRef
- Titus, J. G., R. A. Park, S. P. Leatherman, J. R. Weggel, M. S. Greene, P. W. Mausel M. S. Trehan, S. Brown, C. Grant, andG. W. Yohe. 1991. Greenhouse effect and sea level rise: Loss of land and the cost of holding back the sea.Coastal Management 19:171–204.
- Roman, C. S. personal communication. National Park Service, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, Rhode Island 02882.
- Smith, P. unpublished data. Virginia Coast Reserve Long Term Ecological Research laboratory, P.O. Box 55, Cheriton, Virginia 23316.
- Surface elevation dynamics in vegetatedSpartina marshes versus unvegetated tidal ponds along the Mid-Atlantic coast, USA, with implications to waterbirds
Estuaries and Coasts
Volume 29, Issue 1 , pp 96-106
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Additional Links
- Industry Sectors
- Author Affiliations
- 1. U.S. Geological Survey Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, 22904, Charlottesville, Virginia
- 2. Bellsville Agricultural Research Center-East, U.S. Geological Survey Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Building 308, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, 20705, Bellsville, Maryland