Development and use of a floristic quality index for coastal Louisiana marshes
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The Floristic Quality Index (FQI) has been used as a tool for assessing the integrity of plant communities and for assessing restoration projects in many regions of the USA. Here, we develop a modified FQI (FQImod) for coastal Louisiana wetlands and verify it using 12 years of monitoring data from a coastal restoration project. Plant species that occur in coastal Louisiana were assigned a coefficient of conservatism (CC) score by a local group with expertise in Louisiana coastal vegetation. Species percent cover and both native and non-native species were included in the FQImod which was scaled from 0–100. The FQImod scores from the long-term monitoring project demonstrated the utility of this index for assessing wetland condition over time, including its sensitivity to a hurricane. Ultimately, the FQI developed for coastal Louisiana will be used in conjunction with other wetland indices (e.g., hydrology and soils) to assess wetland condition coastwide and these indices will aid managers in coastal restoration and management decisions.
KeywordsFloristic quality index Coefficient of conservatism Louisiana Coastal restoration Wetland condition
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