Indicators of Coastal Salt Marsh Functioning

 
 

Funding: CSUCI, Environmental Protection Agency

 

Defining desirous levels of ecological functioning for our coastal wetlands

    In association with and in addition to our various focal restoration projects, my lab is developing a network of regional reference/monitoring sites.  There is a tremendous need to document the “normal” or “healthy” state of increasingly rare coastal ecological communities.  How can we set the goals for a restoration project without an adequate knowledge of what such systems should look like?  What level of impact/degradation is acceptable?  To be sure, wetland experts have ben developing their expectations for several decades now.  Unfortunately much of this existing knowledge is not directly applicable to novel metrics of processes as rates such as the recruitment rate of native seeds, the productivity of aerial arthropods, etc.  We seek to create a network of sites that will characterize the existing range of function of various ecological metrics, from highly degraded to well-functioning.

    Our core locations are wetlands in Ventura County, California.  Candidate reference site locations to be vetted over the course of this project include sites in Los Angeles (Ballona Marsh and Malibu Lagoon), Ventura (Mugu Lagoon and McGrath Lagoon), Santa Barbara (Carpinteria Salt Marsh and Goleta Slough) and San Luis Obispo (Morro Bay Salt Marsh) Counties.  Other sites may be added as funding and collaborations can be secured.