Strengthening Coastal Landscapes Room 201B
Jan 24, 2023 01:40 PM - 02:55 PM(America/Chicago)
20230124T1340 20230124T1455 America/Chicago Strengthening Coastal Landscapes Room 201B 2023 Bays and Bayous Symposium mbnep@mobilebaynep.com
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Breakwaters and Benthos: Impacts of Shoreline Restoration on Infaunal Communities
01:40 PM - 01:55 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 19:40:00 UTC - 2023/01/24 19:55:00 UTC
Shoreline restoration aims to develop coastlines that are resilient to erosion and storm surge while promoting ecosystem services. Many restoration projects, including 'living shorelines', incorporate breakwaters to reduce wave activity; these structures may modify the local sediment depositional environment and provide a greater diversity of nearshore habitat types. Changing sediment properties and introducing new habitat features can significantly alter and potentially enhance the composition and abundance of resident infaunal communities, an important component of the nearshore ecosystem that transfers production to higher trophic levels. 
To determine whether restoration activities have structured infaunal communities, we collected benthic cores at Alabama living shoreline sites and adjacent unimpacted reference locations. Cores were collected on transects from outside the breakwater to inside the marsh edge. Therefore, the impacts of living shoreline restoration on infauna were contextualized against typical cross-shore variability. 
This study addresses whether shoreline restoration modifies infaunal communities and potentially affects ecosystem functioning. By examining the connections between breakwater installation, sediment modification, the provision of habitat features, and infaunal community structure, we help inform the future design and siting of responsible coastal management activities.
Presenters
AB
Aaron Bland
University Of South Alabama/Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Co-Authors Alex Rodriguez
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
RB
Ronald Baker
University Of South Alabama, Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Developing and Testing a Metric- Based Indicator of Functional Recovery for Tidal Marshes
01:55 PM - 02:10 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 19:55:00 UTC - 2023/01/24 20:10:00 UTC
Despite their known importance, an estimated 25-50% of tidal marshes have been lost worldwide over the past 50 years, and those that remain are at increased risk of loss due to climate change. While tidal marsh restoration and creation efforts are used to offset these losses, the recovery of important functions like carbon storage and nitrogen removal capacity is often not assessed, due to time and budget constraints. As such, an accessible method for estimating the recovery of function in restored and created tidal marshes would be of great benefit to coastal sustainability efforts. Metric-based indicators have previously been used to assess ecosystem functions through simple and inexpensive biotic/abiotic measures and may therefore provide such a method. Using data collected from 12 restored/created and 4 natural tidal marshes across the Northern Gulf of Mexico during Summer 2021, we created a series of metrics capable of "scoring" functional recovery in tidal marshes using easy-to-measure factors such as site age, bulk density, and plant cover. By resampling these same 16 sites in Summer 2022, we were able to determine the accuracy of these metrics. This metric-based indicator of functional recovery will provide a critical tool to coastal restoration practitioners in properly assessing the outcomes of restoration and creation projects.
Presenters Jacob Dybiec
University Of Alabama, Department Of Biological Sciences
Co-Authors
TL
Taylor Ledford
University Of Alabama
SR
Shelby Rinehart
University Of Alabama, Department Of Biological Sciences
BM
Behzad Mortazavi
University Of Alabama
Julia Cherry
University Of Alabama, Department Of Biological Sciences
Using Fish Community Metrics as Indicators of Habitat Enhancement in Restoration Projects: a Case Study in Coastal Alabama
02:25 PM - 02:40 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 20:25:00 UTC - 2023/01/24 20:40:00 UTC
The enhancement of essential fish habitat is one of the most widely stated goals of ecological restoration projects. However, coastal nektonic communities are inherently variable and stochastic, making quantitative sampling with the power to detect subtle changes considerably time-consuming and expensive. As a result, studies aiming to verify the effectiveness of restoration in enhancing fish habitat often present mixed results. In this study, we sampled nekton communities along multiple living shorelines (LS), natural controls, and hardened shorelines, to assess how useful community metrics are in assessing nekton responses to restoration efforts. LS and control sites were different from and more diverse than hardened shorelines. However, most sites showed no stabilization in species accumulation curves, suggesting that the level of sampling effort was inadequate to capture the entire diversity of nekton at each site. Furthermore, all community-based metrics displayed considerable between-site variability, with no detectable differences between LS and control sites. Importantly, most of the variation in community composition could not be explained by the data (residual variation > 50%). Although such results could indicate that LS achieves ecological parity to natural marshes, another interpretation is that community-based metrics may need very high levels of effort and replication within control and reference sites to detect any distinguishable, subtle effects. Such a level of effort may not be feasible for many projects that are usually interdisciplinary; we suggest alternative metrics that may be more sensitive and cheaper for monitoring restored sites.
Presenters
MD
Matheus De Barros
University Of South Alabama, Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Co-Authors Alex Rodriguez
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
AB
Aaron Bland
University Of South Alabama/Dauphin Island Sea Lab
RB
Ronald Baker
University Of South Alabama, Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Supporting Scientific Discovery and Science-Based Guidance for Restoration and Management through the Mississippi Based RESTORE Act Center of Excellence (MBRACE)
02:40 PM - 02:55 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 20:40:00 UTC - 2023/01/24 20:55:00 UTC
The Mississippi Based RESTORE Act Center of Excellence (MBRACE) was designated as Mississippi's Center of Excellence in September 2016. MBRACE is a consortium of Mississippi's four research universities (Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, University of Mississippi, and The University of Southern Mississippi). The mission of MBRACE is to seek sound comprehensive science-and technology-based understanding of the chronic and acute stressors on the dynamic and productive waters and ecosystems of the northern Gulf of Mexico and to facilitate sustainable use of the Gulf's important resources. Since 2016, MBRACE has funded research projects totaling over $7M. So far, MBRACE has funded two rounds of the Core Research Program (2017, 2020), with four ongoing projects examining the effect of varying ecological conditions on restored and unrestored oyster reefs in Mississippi Sound. The Competitive Research Program was establish in 2020, funding three projects focused on water quality and oyster sustainability in Mississippi. Additionally, MBRACE has funded an undergraduate research internship and a research synthesis of the work from Core 1 for the development of peer-review publications, application to management decisions, and recommendations for future projects. In 2023, MBRACE will fund the next round of Core and Competitive proposals. These projects contribute to scientific discovery within the Gulf and, through the Center's close partnership with state managers, provides science-based guidance for state restoration and management priorities. This presentation will provide information and updates on MBRACE and MBRACE-funded research activities, including new projects, products, and other developments.
Presenters
EO
Erin Oliver
Mississippi Based RESTORE Act Center Of Excellence
University of South Alabama/Dauphin Island Sea Lab
University of Alabama, Department of Biological Sciences
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research and Extension Center
University of South Alabama, Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Mississippi Based RESTORE Act Center of Excellence
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