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  • Ashley R Booth

My Research in 280 Characters

In October, I had the opportunity to participate in the Society of Wetland Scientists' first Twitter Symposium, #SWSTwitterSymp2018. It was a great opportunity to interact with other scientists and learn about wetlands issues without having to leave my office! You can check out my brief presentation below and find the other symposium presentations here.


Why are we losing wetlands?

Coastal wetland loss is prevalent in TX & LA, a region impacted by subsidence, erosion, altered hydrology, & sea level rise (SLR). In the past, marshes kept up with SLR thru mineral sedimentation. Now accretion is dominated by organic matter accumulation.

Land loss in Louisiana
Projected land loss in Louisiana with current rates of sea level rise. Image courtesy of CPRA.

Feedbacks and processes that influence marsh soil accretion.
Figure courtesy of Nyman et al. 1993


Why do we manage marshes and how does this affect wetland loss?

Intensive marsh management designed to provide waterfowl habitat impacts organic accretion, often leading to elevation loss & vulnerability to SLR. As marshes lose elevation they experience more flooding & transition to less ideal plants for waterfowl.

Van der Valk 1981 paper
This paper offers a great explanation of how plant communities change over time (and how wetland management can change plant communities). Click the picture to access the paper.


Why do we need to understand how management changes marsh elevation?

We only partially understand how mgmt impacts elevation & the plant processes driving elevation change. A better understanding of elevation change in these managed wetlands is crucial as marshes become more vulnerable to SLR & support less waterfowl.

Concept Map of Factors influencing Elevation Change
This concept map shows the factors and processes that influence surface elevation change.


How are we studying elevation change and the impacts of management?

We installed 29 surface elevation tables & accretion markers in managed marshes along the TX & LA coast. This allows us to see millimeter-level changes in elevation associated with different plant communities & management regimes.

We’re also measuring belowground productivity & root decomposition rates in 3 plant species. These processes drive organic matter accumulation &, potentially, elevation change. These in-situ studies are mirrored by controlled greenhouse studies.


That's all folks! If you want to see more of what I've been doing lately or find the presentation in its original form, you can find me @ashleyribooth.

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