Planting the marsh: Comparing methods of planting at recovering salt marsh restoration sites in the Bay of Fundy

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Tasha Rabinowitz, Dr. Jeremy Lundholm

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Salt marshes provide many important ecosystem services, including coastal protection, and interest in restoring these systems is growing in the face of climate change. In Atlantic Canada, salt marsh restoration has focused on restoring tidal flow, without planting vegetation. Over time, these sites can show persistent deficits in vegetation diversity. We evaluated five methods of planting (plugs, field transplants, seed, wrack, tilling) eight native species (Carex paleacea, Juncus gerardii, Limonium carolinianum, Plantago maritima, Poa palustris, Solidago sempervirens, Sporobolus alterniflorus and Sporobolus michauxianus) at two Bay of Fundy salt marsh restoration sites to test their ability to accelerate plant recovery. Community structure and planting performance (growth rate, summer and winter survival, health) were monitored over two years. Planting plugs produced the highest abundance of perennial halophytes over both years and plantings had high survival rates (76.4 % ± 0.02 SE) while plants transplanted from adjacent sites had higher mortality and slightly lower abundance. All planted species survived and grew. Growth rate, health, and winter survival were all more strongly related to site than planting treatment, indicating that location was more important than planting method. We found evidence that differences in elevation, inundation, soil salinity and soil nutrients at each site may explain these differences in performance. Planting plugs and field transplants may both be useful for restoration in the future and mixing methods to capitalize on respective strengths may produce best results when planting. Our results also highlight the need to tailor planting plans to individual sites as plantings may respond differently in different situations.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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