Research and monitoring at Elkhorn Slough improved conservation

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Research and monitoring at Elkhorn Slough: improved conservation through understanding

Research and monitoring at Elkhorn Slough: improved conservation through understanding

CONSERVATION RESEARCH At Elkhorn Slough Reserve

CONSERVATION RESEARCH At Elkhorn Slough Reserve

PLACE-BASED SCIENCE

PLACE-BASED SCIENCE

LONG-TERM MONITORING

LONG-TERM MONITORING

CITIZEN SCIENTISTS

CITIZEN SCIENTISTS

INFORMING MANAGEMENT

INFORMING MANAGEMENT

RESTORATION EXPERIMENTS

RESTORATION EXPERIMENTS

SALT MARSH ECOLOGY

SALT MARSH ECOLOGY

SALT MARSH ECOLOGY • Marsh values • Marsh habitat requirements • Threats and what

SALT MARSH ECOLOGY • Marsh values • Marsh habitat requirements • Threats and what we can do about them • Marshes and sea level rise

SALT MARSH VALUES • Rare habitat type • Unique plants • Support for animals

SALT MARSH VALUES • Rare habitat type • Unique plants • Support for animals • Improved water quality • Shoreline protection • Carbon sequestration

Salt marshes are rare on this coast

Salt marshes are rare on this coast

Few estuaries in California

Few estuaries in California

UNIQUE PLANTS found in salt marshes

UNIQUE PLANTS found in salt marshes

PICKLEWEED - Salicornia Dominant in low marsh

PICKLEWEED - Salicornia Dominant in low marsh

High marsh plants Dodder – Cuscuta on pickleweed Salt grass – Distichlis

High marsh plants Dodder – Cuscuta on pickleweed Salt grass – Distichlis

High marsh plants Atriplex – Spear scale Frankenia – alkali heath Jaumea Grindelia –

High marsh plants Atriplex – Spear scale Frankenia – alkali heath Jaumea Grindelia – gum plant

BIRDS USE MARSH HABITAT

BIRDS USE MARSH HABITAT

MARSH PROVIDES REFUGE FOR MARINE MAMMALS

MARSH PROVIDES REFUGE FOR MARINE MAMMALS

WILDLIFE USE OF MARSH-UPLAND ECOTONE

WILDLIFE USE OF MARSH-UPLAND ECOTONE

MARSH DETRITUS SUPPORTS ESTUARINE FOOD WEBS

MARSH DETRITUS SUPPORTS ESTUARINE FOOD WEBS

MARSHES CAN TRAP POLLUTED RUN-OFF

MARSHES CAN TRAP POLLUTED RUN-OFF

SHORELINE PROECTION From wind waves & storms

SHORELINE PROECTION From wind waves & storms

“BLUE CARBON” Carbon sequestration

“BLUE CARBON” Carbon sequestration

Measuring carbon sequestration

Measuring carbon sequestration

Measuring gas emissions

Measuring gas emissions

SALT MARSH VALUES • Rare habitat type • Unique plants • Support for animals

SALT MARSH VALUES • Rare habitat type • Unique plants • Support for animals • Improved water quality • Shoreline protection • Carbon sequestration

SALT MARSH ECOLOGY • Marsh values • Marsh habitat requirements • Threats and what

SALT MARSH ECOLOGY • Marsh values • Marsh habitat requirements • Threats and what we can do about them • Marshes and sea level rise

WHAT SALT MARSHES NEED • Light • Nutrients • Moisture • Soil

WHAT SALT MARSHES NEED • Light • Nutrients • Moisture • Soil

Light: generally not limiting

Light: generally not limiting

Nutrients: supplied by ocean and freshwater

Nutrients: supplied by ocean and freshwater

Moisture: some freshwater, but mostly salt water

Moisture: some freshwater, but mostly salt water

Moisture: CRITICAL!!! Too little tidal inundation: desiccation and competition from upland plants Too much

Moisture: CRITICAL!!! Too little tidal inundation: desiccation and competition from upland plants Too much tidal inundation: roots don’t get enough oxygen and plants drown

IT’S ALL ABOUT ELEVATION

IT’S ALL ABOUT ELEVATION

Lower areas: drowned marsh Higher areas: healthy marsh

Lower areas: drowned marsh Higher areas: healthy marsh

Lower areas: drowned marsh Higher areas: healthy marsh

Lower areas: drowned marsh Higher areas: healthy marsh

Soil: CRITICAL!!! Horizontal processes: Banks retreat if sediment supply is to low

Soil: CRITICAL!!! Horizontal processes: Banks retreat if sediment supply is to low

Soil: CRITICAL!!! Vertical processes: Marsh plain needs to build upward to track rising seas

Soil: CRITICAL!!! Vertical processes: Marsh plain needs to build upward to track rising seas

From D. Cahoon

From D. Cahoon

HORIZONTAL: EXPANSION OR RETREAT OF EDGE VERTICAL: UPWARD GROWTH OF MARSH PLAIN TO TRACK

HORIZONTAL: EXPANSION OR RETREAT OF EDGE VERTICAL: UPWARD GROWTH OF MARSH PLAIN TO TRACK SEA LEVEL

MARSH DROWNING Due to insufficient external sediment supply or insufficient organic matter internally to

MARSH DROWNING Due to insufficient external sediment supply or insufficient organic matter internally to build soil

WHAT SALT MARSHES NEED • Light: usually not an issue • Nutrients: not too

WHAT SALT MARSHES NEED • Light: usually not an issue • Nutrients: not too much or little • Moisture: not too much or little (elevation!) • Soil: need to keep building up to track SLR

SALT MARSH ECOLOGY • Marsh values • Marsh habitat requirements • Threats and what

SALT MARSH ECOLOGY • Marsh values • Marsh habitat requirements • Threats and what we can do about them • Marshes and sea level rise

THREATS TO SALT MARSHES and what we can do about them • Diking •

THREATS TO SALT MARSHES and what we can do about them • Diking • Erosion • Decreased freshwater inputs • Eutrophication • Trampling • Invasions

DIKING/DRAINING MARSHES

DIKING/DRAINING MARSHES

LEGACY OF DIKING: SUBSIDENCE

LEGACY OF DIKING: SUBSIDENCE

LEGACY OF DIKING: SUBSIDENCE

LEGACY OF DIKING: SUBSIDENCE

1870 2000 Sediment addition project From Van Dyke & Wasson 2005

1870 2000 Sediment addition project From Van Dyke & Wasson 2005

SEDIMENT ADDITION To restore elevation and marsh

SEDIMENT ADDITION To restore elevation and marsh

ARTIFICIAL HARBOR MOUTH

ARTIFICIAL HARBOR MOUTH

MARSH BANK EROSION

MARSH BANK EROSION

DECREASE TIDAL CURRENTS • Parsons Sill project

DECREASE TIDAL CURRENTS • Parsons Sill project

FRESHWATER INPUTS DECREASED

FRESHWATER INPUTS DECREASED

EUTROPHICATION

EUTROPHICATION

ALGAL WRACK AND MARSH

ALGAL WRACK AND MARSH

DECREASED PLANT HEALTH

DECREASED PLANT HEALTH

marsh retreat rate (cm/yr) VEGETATION RETREAT AND BANK EROSION R 2 = 0. 62,

marsh retreat rate (cm/yr) VEGETATION RETREAT AND BANK EROSION R 2 = 0. 62, P = 0. 0002 Wrack index

CATTLE TRAMPLING

CATTLE TRAMPLING

CATTLE TRAMPLING Fencing prevents harm

CATTLE TRAMPLING Fencing prevents harm

HUMAN TRAI

HUMAN TRAI

BOARDWALKS PROTECT MARSH

BOARDWALKS PROTECT MARSH

NON-NATIVE PLANT INVASIONS poison hemlock MARSH ice plant MARSH

NON-NATIVE PLANT INVASIONS poison hemlock MARSH ice plant MARSH

ICE PLANT REMOVAL

ICE PLANT REMOVAL

THREATS TO SALT MARSHES and what we can do about them • Diking>>>restore tides,

THREATS TO SALT MARSHES and what we can do about them • Diking>>>restore tides, add sediment • Erosion>>>reduce currents • Decreased freshwater inputs>>>restore some • Eutrophication>>>decrease nutrients • Trampling>>>limit access • Invasions>>>prevent and restore

SALT MARSH ECOLOGY • Marsh values • Marsh habitat requirements • Threats and what

SALT MARSH ECOLOGY • Marsh values • Marsh habitat requirements • Threats and what we can do about them • Marshes and sea level rise

GREENHOUSE GAS INCREASES Sharp climb in past 100 yrs

GREENHOUSE GAS INCREASES Sharp climb in past 100 yrs

SEA LEVEL RISE High uncertainty, but major increases projected

SEA LEVEL RISE High uncertainty, but major increases projected

WARMING CAUSES SEA LEVEL RISE

WARMING CAUSES SEA LEVEL RISE

SEA LEVEL RISE PROJECTIONS

SEA LEVEL RISE PROJECTIONS

KING TIDES OFFER PREVIEW http: //california. kingtides. net/

KING TIDES OFFER PREVIEW http: //california. kingtides. net/

MONTEREY TIDE STATION Sea level rise still moderate

MONTEREY TIDE STATION Sea level rise still moderate

MONTEREY TIDE STATION Short term high water levels

MONTEREY TIDE STATION Short term high water levels

Dieback of lower edge of marsh: High water levels during El Nino

Dieback of lower edge of marsh: High water levels during El Nino

RESILIENCE TO SEA LEVEL RISE 1) Existing marshes tracking SLR; marsh survives in current

RESILIENCE TO SEA LEVEL RISE 1) Existing marshes tracking SLR; marsh survives in current area 2) Migration of marshes upward; marshes occupy new areas

Coastal Marsh MHW MLW intertidal

Coastal Marsh MHW MLW intertidal

Rapid sea level rise = marsh drowning MHW MLW intertidal SEA LEVEL RISE

Rapid sea level rise = marsh drowning MHW MLW intertidal SEA LEVEL RISE

Adequate sediment or slow SLR = survival MHW MLW intertidal sediment

Adequate sediment or slow SLR = survival MHW MLW intertidal sediment

RESILIENCE TO SEA LEVEL RISE Factors that help existing marshes • Marsh elevation>>>high marshes

RESILIENCE TO SEA LEVEL RISE Factors that help existing marshes • Marsh elevation>>>high marshes safer • Tidal range>>>larger range provides buffer • Elevation change>>>rising marshes safer • Sediment supply>>>more helps track SLR • Eutrophication>>>can cause subsidence • Groundwater overdraft>>>ditto

Surveying elevation of marshes

Surveying elevation of marshes

Measuring marsh elevation change http: //www. pwrc. usgs. gov/set/theory. html

Measuring marsh elevation change http: //www. pwrc. usgs. gov/set/theory. html

Measuring sea level

Measuring sea level

Elkhorn Slough resilience: Sea level rise: +1. 4 mm/yr (and increasing) Marsh accretion: +3.

Elkhorn Slough resilience: Sea level rise: +1. 4 mm/yr (and increasing) Marsh accretion: +3. 0 mm/yr Marsh subsidence: -2. 1 mm/yr Net elevation gain: +0. 9 mm/yr Not enough….

How resilient are US marshes in the face of sea level rise? Analysis across

How resilient are US marshes in the face of sea level rise? Analysis across the National Estuarine Reserves Legend Number of metrics (of 10) that show high risk 1 LDD 2 3 4 >5

RESILIENCE TO SEA LEVEL RISE 1) Existing marshes tracking SLR; marsh survives in current

RESILIENCE TO SEA LEVEL RISE 1) Existing marshes tracking SLR; marsh survives in current area 2) Migration of marshes upward; marshes occupy new areas

BATHTUB RING Narrow band of marsh may result from upward migration on steep slopes

BATHTUB RING Narrow band of marsh may result from upward migration on steep slopes

SEA LEVE RISE PROJECTIONS NOAA’S SEA LEVEL RISE VIEWER https: //coast. noaa. gov/slr/

SEA LEVE RISE PROJECTIONS NOAA’S SEA LEVEL RISE VIEWER https: //coast. noaa. gov/slr/

HOW CAN WE SUPPORT MARSH RESILIENCE?

HOW CAN WE SUPPORT MARSH RESILIENCE?

SUPPLY SEDIMENT

SUPPLY SEDIMENT

DECREASE OTHER STRESSORS

DECREASE OTHER STRESSORS

FACILITATE MIGRATION

FACILITATE MIGRATION

UNDERSTAND, APPRECIATE, CONSERVE AND RESTORE OUR SALT MARSHES!

UNDERSTAND, APPRECIATE, CONSERVE AND RESTORE OUR SALT MARSHES!