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Integrated Marsh Management (IMM): a new perspective on mosquito control and best management practices for salt marsh restoration

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Salt marsh management often embraces diverse goals, ranging from the restoration of degraded marshes through re-introduction of tidal flow to the control of salt marsh mosquito production by altering marsh surface topography through Open Water Marsh Management (OMWM). However, rarely have these goals been incorporated in one project. Here we present the concept of Integrated Marsh Management (IMM), which combines the best management practices of salt marsh restoration and OMWM. Although IMM offers a comprehensive approach to ecological restoration and mosquito control, research evaluating this concept’s practical implementations has been inadequate. A long-term IMM project at Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge located in a highly urbanized watershed on Long Island, New York, USA was designed to fill this knowledge gap. A combination of restoration and OMWM techniques was employed at two treatment marshes, the results monitored before and after alterations, and compared to two adjacent control marshes. The treatment marshes experienced decreased mosquito production, reduced cover of the invasive common reed (Phragmites australis), expansion of native marsh vegetation, increased killifish and estuarine nekton species abundance, as well as increased avian species diversity and waterbird abundance. This demonstration project validated the IMM conceptual approach and may serve as a case study for similar IMM projects in the future.

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The Integrated Marsh Management at WNWR was a collaborative effort between USFWS and Suffolk County. The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We are indebted to Deborah Long, Patricia Martinkovic, and Michelle Williams (USFWS) for past and continuing support. We thank Alex Chmielewski, Andy Hinickle, Azucena Ponce, and Monica Williams (USFWS) for invaluable advice and field assistance. Suffolk County Vector Control personnel provided vital support for the project: Margaret Kawalkowski (data entry and QA), Jerry Franklin (maintenance and bird data collection), Valentin Bulgak (GIS support), and field crews (sampling). We thank Walt Dawydiak and Kimberly Shaw (Suffolk County DHS) for excellent project coordination and management, and Phil DeBlasi (Suffolk County DHS) for help with field work. Josh Ver Hague and Craig Kessler (Ducks Unlimited) provided valuable help with design and field sampling. Cashin Associates personnel Kim Somers, Keith Brewer, and Elyse O’Brien collected the field data and David Tonjes produced the draft project reports in 2003–2007.

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Correspondence to Ilia Rochlin.

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Rochlin, I., James-Pirri, M., Adamowicz, S.C. et al. Integrated Marsh Management (IMM): a new perspective on mosquito control and best management practices for salt marsh restoration. Wetlands Ecol Manage 20, 219–232 (2012).

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  • Salt marsh restoration
  • Mosquito control
  • Open Marsh Water Management (OMWM)
  • Phragmites australis
  • Spartina
  • Salt marsh nekton