November 29, 2005
New model protects wetlands of the future
In the latest issue of Restoration Ecology, researchers describe a new model for coastal development. Using survey data conducted in Lake Pontchartrain, LA, they created a Potential SAV (Submersed Aquatic Vegetation) model. It predicts potential habitat changes in SAV caused by the changes in water clarity or shoreface slopes as a result of natural disturbances or restoration efforts. Often, only the existing SAV beds are considered for conservation efforts. This model helped set a restoration goal; and the assessment of potential beds provides protection of these areas from future degradation.
The general model was based on three relationships: water clarity controls colonization depth, average water fluctuation and wave mixing depth determines minimum colonization depth, and site differences are determined by the shoreface slope angle. With these parameters, the model figures the key factors and provides quantitative results that predict gain from different levels of habitat restoration scenarios. "This model can be used in other coastal SAV habitats if local SAV light requirements are substituted for Lake Pontchartrain values" the authors explain.