Identifier

etd-06032006-113117

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Renewable Natural Resources

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

The wetlands of coastal Louisiana are disappearing at a rate of 65 to 80 km2yr-1. Most of the loss is the conversion of emergent marsh to shallow marsh ponds. Terracing is one restoration technique that has been used frequently in recent years. Terraces are small intertidal ridges built in shallow marsh ponds to reduce wave action. It is assumed that this will slow erosion of adjacent emergent marsh and increase Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) production, a key habitat component for many marsh fauna. Yet both relevant previous studies failed to show that terraces increased SAV abundance. In April of 2004 this study was initiated to test this assumption. Three study sites with paired terraced and unterraced ponds were selected in southwest Louisiana; two at Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge and one at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge. SAV abundance was estimated every other month for one year. SAV biomass and frequency were significantly higher in terraced ponds. SAV frequency in unterraced ponds averaged 20% (SE 13 to 33%) but frequency for unterraced ponds was 9% (SE 5 to 14%). Terraced ponds had approximately three and half times the biomass of unterraced ponds. This indicates that terraces improve SAV production as had been suspected. Turbidity and organic matter content were lower in terraced ponds indicating a possible causal mechanism. My results confirm some assumptions of wetland restoration planners who have used terraces.

Date

2006

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

John Andrew Nyman

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