Drs. Cherry & Mortazavi awarded grant to study recovery of restored tidal marshes

Coastal wetland restoration is increasingly utilized to offset wetland loss and degradation and to recover ecosystem services, making it important to evaluate the relative effectiveness and times to functional equivalence of different restoration strategies. Two critically important services provided by coastal wetlands are carbon storage and nitrogen removal. By restoring or creating wetlands, it is possible to recover these functions and services, thereby promoting more resilient coastal watersheds. As part of a new Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant project, entitled “Assessing Recovery of Ecosystem Structure and Function in Restored Tidal Marshes of the Mississippi-Alabama Gulf Coast,” Drs. Cherry and Mortazavi will evaluate ecosystem structure and function in habitat restoration and creation projects of different ages. Their objectives are to compare structural and functional attributes in restored coastal wetlands of different ages to reference wetlands, to estimate recovery trajectories and times to equivalency for these attributes, and to evaluate the relative effectiveness of different habitat restoration projects. They will inventory plant community structure, plant biomass, soil carbon storage, and nitrogen removal capacity via denitrification in 16 coastal wetlands, including 12 created or restored wetlands ranging in age from 4 to 33 years. Through these analyses, they will assess the relative effectiveness of different habitat restoration projects along the Mississippi-Alabama Gulf Coast, which will be used to inform future restoration practices. Thus, this project will provide important baseline information about restoration activities, while also assessing the structural and functional outcomes of projects that used different approaches for wetland restoration or creation. Learn more about this project at the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium website.