Throughout the week of March 28th, the Southeast Coast Network conducted field work to select sites for long-term salt marsh community monitoring in Fort Matanzas National Monument and the surrounding waters of Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Network staff worked with both park and reserve staff, providing training in onsite selection and salt marsh vegetation monitoring.
By week’s end, six half-hectare sites in the 73,352 acre marsh had been identified where 18 long-term monitoring platforms will be installed to monitor salt marsh accretion and subsidence, trends in soil salinity and marsh extent, vegetative species composition and health, and trends in relative sea level rise and its effects on the salt marsh.
Within Southeast Coast Network parks, changes in salt marsh extent, diversity, and quality are presumed to be related to a combination of sea level rise (relative to changes in salt marsh elevation) and other local/regional issues, such as changes in surrounding land use or water use that can affect subsidence rates.
Given that ecosystem drivers on both of these scales are expected to continue for the indefinite future, it is important for park managers to be able to understand and predict the effects of agents of change on these sensitive and declining resources. In transgressive coastal areas, sea level rise is the driving force responsible for the transformation of upland soils into tidal wetlands.