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The effects of thin layer sand renourishment on tidal marsh processes: Masonboro Island, North Carolina

Abstract

The objective of this study was to determine if the placement of dredged material on sediment-starved back barrier marshes in southeastern North Carolina could offset submergence without negatively affecting function. Clean sediment was placed in thickness from 0 to 10 cm, on deteriorated and non-deteriorated marsh plots. Original stem densities were greater, in non-deteriorated plots (256 stems m−2) compared to deteriorated sites (149 stems m−2). By the second growing season (after sediment additions), stem densities in the deteriorated plots (308 stems m−2) approached levels in the non-deteriorated plots (336 stems m−2). Sediment additions to, both nos-deteriorated and deteriorated plots resulted in a higher redox potential with plots receiving the most sediment exhibiting the highest Eh values. In deteriorated plots, placement of dredged material had the greatest effect on plant density, but also affected soil oxidation-reduction potential and sediment deposition (or mobility). Following sediment placement, substrate texture and composition incrementally returned to prefill conditions due to a combination of bioturbation and sedimentation. Where infaunal differences occurred, they were generally less abundant in deteriorated plots, but responses to sediment addition were variable. Sediment addition had little effect on the non-deteriorated plots, suggesting that the disposal of certain types of dredged material in marshes may be useful to mitigate the effects of marsh degradation without adversely affecting non-deteriorating marsh.

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Correspondence to Alex L. Croft.

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Croft, A.L., Leonard, L.A., Alphin, T.D. et al. The effects of thin layer sand renourishment on tidal marsh processes: Masonboro Island, North Carolina. Estuaries and Coasts: J ERF 29, 737–750 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02786525

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Keywords

  • Plant Height
  • Salt Marsh
  • Control Plot
  • Stem Density
  • Marsh Surface