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Emily R. Spencer, Skye Augustine, Natasha Salter , Anne K. Salomon
On the Pacific coast of North America, Indigenous communities have enhanced clam populations through time by building rock-walled terraces in soft-sediment intertidal habitats and actively tending these “clam gardens”. Today, clam biomass and density are decreasing regionally due to degraded ocean conditions, yet, clam gardens have double to quadruple the biomass of clams compared to unwalled beaches. A Coast Salish led clam garden restoration experiment aims to better understand the drivers behind physical mechanisms that increase clam productivity. As one component of the study, we are evaluating how active beach tending and rock wall reconstruction affect sediment characteristics using a before-after, control-impact design. Following the first five years of restoration, we hypothesize grain sizes will shift towards coarser size classes as the rebuilt wall traps gravel on its landward side and beach tiling increases the transport of silts offsite. Within the same time frame, we hypothesize beach tending will increase the carbonate content of sediments via an increase in crushed shell. With existing biological data, we will analyze the relative importance of shifts in habitat structure on bivalve biomass and density. Initial findings show variation in carbonate levels among tidal heights and sites. Clam gardens have higher carbonate levels at the low intertidal compared to non-walled beaches. Building on previous work that has examined increases to clam production on untended clam gardens, this large-scale study will help explain the effects of human management on habitat conditions and the mechanisms driving variation in clam productivity
Conference Presentation, SER2021
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program