Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 111–127 | Cite as

Success criteria and adaptive management for a large-scale wetland restoration project

  • Michael P. Weinstein
  • John H. Balletto
  • John M. Teal
  • David F. Ludwig


We are using a 20+ year photographic history of relatively undisturbed and formerly diked sites to predict the restoration trajectories and equilibrium size of a 4,050 ha salt marsh on Delaware Bay, New Jersey (USA). The project was initiated to offset the loss of finfishes from once-through cooling at a local power plant. We used a simple food chain model to estimate the required restoration size. This model assumed that annual macrophyte detritus production and benthic algal production resulted in production of finfishes, including certain species of local interest. Because the marsh surface and intertidal drainage system are used by many finfishes and are the focal points for exchange of detrital materials, the restoration planning focused on both vegetational and hydrogeomorphological parameters. Recolonization bySpartina spp. and other desirable taxa will be promoted by returning a natural hydroperiod and drainage configuration to two types of degraded salt marsh: diked salt hay (Spartina patens) farms and brackish marsh dominated byPhragmites australis. The criteria for success of the project address two questions: What is the “bound of expectation” for restoration success, and how long will it take to get there? Measurements to be made are macrophyte production, vegetation composition, benthic algal production, and drainage features including stream order, drainage density, channel length, bifurcation ratios and sinuosity. A method for combining these individual parameters into a single success index is also presented. Finally, we developed adaptive management thresholds and corrective measures to guide the restoration process.


restoration wetlands success criteria 


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Copyright information

© SPB Academic Publishing 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael P. Weinstein
    • 1
  • John H. Balletto
    • 2
  • John M. Teal
    • 3
  • David F. Ludwig
    • 4
  1. 1.TEVA Environmental Associates, Inc.MillburnUSA
  2. 2.Estuary Enhancement ProgramPublic Service Electric and Gas CompanyHancocks BridgeUSA
  3. 3.Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA
  4. 4.EA Engineering, Science and TechnologyHunt ValleyUSA

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