Managing Coastal Wetlands for Wildlife and Sustainability in the Face of Sea Level Rise
September 2017 - August 2021
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Coastal wetlands are a critical resource for waterfowl, other waterbirds, alligators, furbearers and a variety of other wetland-dependent wildlife. As such, hundreds of thousands of acres and millions of dollars have been invested in coastal wildlife refuges in Louisiana and Texas. In spite of their protection by public ownership, natural and anthropogenically-induced processes are threatening the long-term viability of these systems. Natural and anthropogenically-induced subsidence, reduced sediment loads, and increased eustatic sea levels have caused substantial marsh loss in Louisiana and Texas, with increased rates of sea level rise expected in the future. The ability of marshes to keep up with sea level rise is the result of decomposition and accretion processes. Common marsh management practices, such as fire, flooding, drawdown, and herbicides, affect accretion and decomposition rates but these rates are poorly understood and rarely quantified. In this study, we will evaluate accretion and decomposition processes in selected managed units at J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area in Texas.