Integrating Successional Ecology and the Delta Lobe Cycle in Wetland Research and Restoration
- 808 Downloads
Inactive deltas are more extensive than active deltas in most deltaic landscapes; thus, the subsurface generally is dominated by mineral sediments that rapidly accreted at different times, whereas the landscape at any one time generally is dominated by ephemeral emergent wetlands that are slowly accreting via vegetative growth. Subsidence is slow enough in most deltas that emergent wetlands, although ephemeral, can persist for millennia but accelerating global sea level rise probably will slow wetland creation in active deltas and accelerate the loss of existing wetlands in inactive deltas this century worldwide. A recent publication created confusion regarding the effects of river management on coastal Louisiana, where spatially variable subsidence is great enough in some areas to mimic extremely rapid sea level rise. I show how integrating Successional Ecology with the Delta Lobe Cycle, and correcting some omissions and errors in recent publications, clarifies the effects of river management in coastal Louisiana and provides a framework for predicting deltaic landscape dynamics worldwide. Successional Ecology provides a framework for understanding changes in natural and managed environments worldwide, whereas the Delta Lobe Cycle provides a framework for understanding river-dominated deltas worldwide. Sediment diversions are a form of river management that removes artificial barriers to river flow and are designed to mimic hydrologic conditions during the active delta stage of the Delta Lobe Cycle by focusing rapid mineral sedimentation in open water and thus creating new emergent wetlands. Freshwater diversions are another form of river management that also removes artificial barriers to river flow but are designed to mimic hydrologic conditions during the inactive stages of the Delta Lobe Cycle by reducing salinity stress over large areas of emergent wetlands and thus promoting marsh vertical accretion via vegetative growth. The Delta Lobe Cycle and both types of river diversions also create salinity gradients that simultaneously increase the sensitivity of emergent wetlands to disturbance while increasing the ability of emergent wetlands to recover from disturbance. Freshwater diversions only slow the loss of existing wetlands because the natural Delta Lobe Cycle, artificial channels that increase salinity stress, artificial ridges that increase flooding stress, and repeated disturbances eventually will cause vertical accretion via vegetative growth to become inadequate. Formally integrating these concepts might advance research and restoration in deltaic landscapes worldwide especially in the majority of deltas where inactive deltas are more extensive than active deltas.
KeywordsWetland Delta Delta Lobe Cycle Disturbance Succession Restoration Diversion Louisiana
R. Keim and anonymous reviewers provided constructive criticism to earlier drafts of this manuscript. This work was partially supported by McIntire-Stennis Project number LAB 94095 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
- Baker, A., T. Henkel, J. Lopez, and E. Boyd. 2011. Geomorphology and bald cypress restoration of the Caernarvon Delta near the Caernarvon Diversion, Southeast Louisiana. Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, Metarie, Louisiana. http://www.saveourlake.org/PDF-documents/our-coast/Caernarvon/LPBF%20Caernarvon%20Delta%20Report%202011%20-FINAL.pdf. Accessed 19 May 2013.
- Barras, J.A. 2009. Land area change and overview of major hurricane impacts in coastal Louisiana, 2004-08: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3080, scale 1:250,000, 6 p. pamphlet. http://pubs.usgs.gov/sim/3080/.
- Brand, L.A., L.M. Smith, J.Y. Takekawa, N.D. Athearn, K. Taylor, G.G. Shellenbarager, D.H. Schoellhamer, and R. Spenst. 2012. Trajectory of early tidal marsh restoration: elevation, sedimentation and colonization of breached salt ponds in the northern San Francisco Bay. Ecological Engineering 42: 19–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Chabreck, R.H., and J.A. Nyman. 2005. Management of coastal wetlands. In Techniques for wildlife investigations and management, 6th ed, ed. C.E. Braun, 839–860. Bethesda: The Wildlife Society.Google Scholar
- Coleman, J.M. 1972. Deltas: process of deposition and models for exploration, 2nd ed. Minneapolis: Burgess.Google Scholar
- Coleman, J. M. 1988. Dynamic changes and the processes in the Mississippi river delta. Geological Society of America Bulletin 100:999-1015. doi: 10.1130/0016-7606(1988)100<0999:DCAPIT>2.3.CO;2.
- Couvillion, B. R., Barras, J. A., Steyer, G. D., W. Sleavin, M. Fischer, H. Beck, N. Trahan, G. Brad, and D. Heckman. 2011. Land area change in coastal Louisiana from 1932 to 2010: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3164, scale 1:265,000, 12 p. pamphlet. http://pubs.usgs.gov/sim/3164/. Accessed 18 Oct 2013.
- Day, J.W., J.E. Cable, J.H. Cowan Jr., R. DeLaune, K. de Mutsert, B. Fry, H. Mashriqui, D. Justic, P. Kemp, R.R. Lane, J. Rick, S. Rick, L.P. Rosas, G. Snedden, E. Swenson, R.R. Twilley, and B. Wissel. 2009. The impacts of pulsed reintroduction of river water on a Mississippi Delta coastal basin. Journal of Coastal Research 54: 225–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- DeLaune, R.D. 1986. The use of d13C signature of C-3 and C-4 plants in determining past depositional environments in rapidly accreting marshes of the Mississippi River deltaic plain, Louisiana, USA. Chemical Geoogy: Isotop Geosciene Section: 59-315-320.Google Scholar
- DeLaune, R.D., and S.R. Pezeshki. 1988. Relationship of mineral nutrients to growth of Spartina alterniflora in Louisiana salt marshes. Northeast Gulf Science 10: 195–204.Google Scholar
- DeLaune, R.D., J.A. Nyman, and W.H. Patrick Jr. 1994. Peat collapse, ponding, and wetland loss in a rapidly submerging coastal marsh. Journal of Coastal Research 10: 1021–1030.Google Scholar
- Fox, L.I., Valiela, and E.L. Kinney. 2012. Vegetation cover and elevation in long-term experimental nutrient-enrichment plots in Great Sippewisett Salt Marsh, Cape Cod, Massachusetts: implications for eutrophication and sea level rise. Estuaries and Coasts 35: 445–458. doi: 10.1007/s12237-012-9479-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gossman, B. 2009. 2009 Operations, maintenance, and monitoring report for the Delta Wide Crevasses (MR-09) Project, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana, Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration, New Orleans, Louisiana. 21 pp. http://lacoast.gov/new/Projects/Info.aspx?num=MR-09. Accessed 18 Oct 2011
- Howes, N.C., D.M. FitzGerald, Z.J. Huges, I.Y. Georgiou, M.A. Kulp, M.D. Miner, J.M. Smith, and J.A. Barras. 2010. Hurricane-induced failure of low salinity wetlands. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107:14014–14019.Google Scholar
- Ialeggio, J.S., and J.A. Nyman. 2013. Nutria grazing preference as a function of fertilization, in pressGoogle Scholar
- Kelly, S. 1996. Small sediment diversions (MR-01) MR-01-MSPR-0696-2 Progress Report No. 2 for the periods September 1, 1993 to June 10, 1996. Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.Google Scholar
- Kim, W., D. Mohrig, R. Twilley, C. Paola, and G. Parker. 2009. Is it feasible to build new land in the Mississippi River delta? EOS 90:373-384.Google Scholar
- Kirwan, M.L., A.B.. Burray, and W.S. Boyd. 2008. Temporary vegetation disturbance as an explanation for permanent loss of tidal wetlands. Geophysical Research Letters 35: L05403. doi: 10.1029/2007GL03268.
- LCWCRTF. 1993. Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Restoration Plan. Main Report and Environmental Impact Statement. Prepared by Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Task Force. http://lacoast.gov/new/Pubs/Reports/program.aspx. Accessed 18 Oct 2013
- LCWCRTF. 2010. The 2009 Evaluation Report to the U.S. Congress on the Effectiveness of Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act Projects. http://lacoast.gov/new/Pubs/Reports/program.aspx. Accessed 18 Oct 2013.
- LDWF. 2001. Louisiana Coastal Marsh Vegetative Type (poly), Geographic NAD83, LDWF (2001) [marsh_veg_type_poly_LDWF_2001]: Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Fur and Refuge Division, and the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wetlands Research Center., Lafayette, Louisiana, US. Downloaded 5 December from http://lagic.lsu.edu/data/losco/marsh_veg_type_poly_LDWF_2001.zip.
- Lemmon, A.E., J.T. Magill, and J. Wiese. 2003. Charting Louisiana: five hundred years of maps. The Historic New Orleans Collection, New Orleans LA USA. ISBN 0-917860-47-0.Google Scholar
- McGinnis II, T. E. 1997. Factors of soil strength and shoreline movement in a Louisiana coastal marsh. Masters Thesis. University of Southwestern Louisiana. Lafayette, Louisiana, doi: 10.1007/s10533-008-9230-7.
- Morris, J. T., D. Porter, M. Neet, P. A. Noble, L Schmidt, L. A. Lapine, and J. R. Jensen. 2005. Integrating LIDAR elevation data, multi-spectral imagery and neural network modeling for marsh characterization. International Journal of Remote Sensing 26:5221-5234. DOI: 10.1080/01431160500219018.Google Scholar
- Nyman, J.A., and R.H. Chabreck. 1995. Fire in coastal marshes: history and recent concerns. In Proceedings 19th Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference- Fire in wetlands: a management perspective, eds. S.I. Cerulean and R.T. Engstrom 135–141. Tallahassee, Florida: Tall Timbers Research, Inc.Google Scholar
- Penland, S., R. Boyd, and J.R. Suter. 1988. Transgressive depositional systems of the Mississippi Delta Plain: a model for barrier shoreline and shelf sand development. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology 58: 932–949.Google Scholar
- Saichuck, J., D. Harrell, S. Gauthier, D. Groth, Cl Hollier, N. Hummel, S. Linscombe, X. Sha, M. Stout, E. Webster, and L. White. 2011. Rice varieties and management tips. Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Publication No. 2270. Baton Rouge, Louisiana.Google Scholar
- Sasser, C.E., J.M. Visser, E. Mouton, J. Linscombe, and S.B. Hartley. 2008. Vegetation types in coastal Louisiana in 2007: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1224, 1 sheet, scale 1:550,000. http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2008/1224/pdf/OFR2008-1224.pdf.
- Weller, M. W., and C. S. Spatcher. 1965. Role of habitat in the distribution and abundance of marsh birds. Special Report No. 43, Agricultural and Home Economics Experiment Station, Iowa State University.Google Scholar
- Wilsey, B.J., and R.H. Chabreck. 1991. Nutritional quality of nutria diets in three Louisiana wetland habitats. Northeast Gulf Science 12: 67–72.Google Scholar