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Practical proxies for tidal marsh ecosystem services: application to injury and restoration
Peterson, C.H.; Able, K.W.; Frieswyk DeJong, C.; Piehler, M.F.; Simenstad, C.A.; Zedler, J.B. (2008). Practical proxies for tidal marsh ecosystem services: application to injury and restoration. Adv. Mar. Biol. 54: 221-266. dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0065-2881(08)00004-7
In: Advances in Marine Biology. Academic Press: London,New York,. ISSN 0065-2881, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

Keyword
    Marine
Author keywords
    Above-ground biomass; Below-ground biomass; Compensatory restoration; Marsh stratification; Natural resource injury; Oil spills; Public trust

Authors  Top 
  • Peterson, C.H.
  • Able, K.W.
  • Frieswyk DeJong, C.
  • Piehler, M.F.
  • Simenstad, C.A.
  • Zedler, J.B.

Abstract
    Tidal marshes are valued, protected and restored in recognition of their ecosystem services: (1) high productivity and habitat provision supporting the food web leading to fish and wildlife, (2) buffer against storm wave damage, (3) shoreline stabilization, (4) flood water storage, (5) water quality maintenance, (6) biodiversity preservation, (7) carbon storage and (8) socio-economic benefits. Under US law, federal and state governments have joint responsibility for facilitating restoration to compensate quantitatively for ecosystem services lost because of oil spills and other contaminant releases on tidal marshes. This responsibility is now met by choosing and employing metrics (proxies) for the suite of ecosystem services to quantify injury and scale restoration accordingly. Most injury assessments in tidal marshes are triggered by oil spills and are limited to: (1) documenting areas covered by heavy, moderate and light oiling; (2) estimating immediate above-ground production loss (based on stem density and height) of the dominant vascular plants within each oiling intensity category and (3) sampling sediments for chemical analyses and depth of contamination, followed by sediment toxicity assays if sediment contamination is high and likely to persist. The percentage of immediate loss of ecosystem services is then estimated along with the recovery trajectory. Here, we review potential metrics that might refine or replace present metrics for marsh injury assessment. Stratifying plant sampling by the more productive marsh edge versus the less accessible interior would improve resolution of injury and provide greater confidence that restoration is truly compensatory. Using microphytobenthos abundance, cotton-strip decomposition bioassays and other biogeochemical indicators, or sum of production across consumer trophic levels fails as a stand-alone substitute metric. Below-ground plant biomass holds promise as a potential proxy for resiliency but requires further testing. Under some conditions, like chronic contamination by organic pollutants that affect animals but not vascular plants, benthic infaunal density, toxicity testing, and tissue contamination, growth, reproduction and mortality of marsh vertebrates deserve inclusion in the assessment protocol. Additional metrics are sometimes justified to assay microphytobenthos, use by nekton, food and habitat for reptiles, birds and mammals, or support of plant diversity. Empirical research on recovery trajectories in previously injured marshes could reduce the largest source of uncertainty in quantifying cumulative service losses.

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