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4104 Environmental management
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The reduction of saltmarsh habitat at a global scale has seen a concomitant loss of associated ecosystem services. As such, there is a need and a push for habitat rehabilitation. This study examined an innovative saltmarsh restoration project in Australia which sought to address the threats of mangrove encroachment and sea level rise. The project was implemented in 2017, using automated hydraulic control gates, termed“SmartGates,”to lower the tidal regime over one site, effectively reversing sea level rise at a local level. Measured indicators of saltmarsh cover, number of species, seedling counts, and saltmarsh assemblages all showed significant positive development over time, with trends varying based on saltmarsh zone. The saltmarsh, predominantly Sarcocornia quinque flora, developed from remnant supralittoral (previously high) marsh which remained at 45% cover to achieve over 15% coverage across the cleared habitat after 3 years. Slower development in the low marsh (<5%) compared to other zones contrasts with other saltmarsh restoration studies which may be due to the unique nature of the restoration method or the nature of Australian saltmarsh species which favor higher elevations and drier conditions. The development of saltmarsh at the treatment site was found to track toward that at comparison sites over time, becoming similar to some comparison sites by the studies end. This study highlights the usefulness of the novel restoration method used and of the measured indicators for assessing saltmarsh development. This innovative tidal control method could play an important role in the future of saltmarsh restoration worldwide.
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Rankin, C., Gaston, T., Sadat‐Noori, M., Glamore, W., Morton, J., & Chalmers, A. (2022). Innovative tidal control successfully promotes saltmarsh restoration. Restoration Ecology, e13774.
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