The legacy of agricultural reclamation on channel and pool networks of Bay of Fundy salt marshes

Graham K. MacDonald, Paula E. Noel, Danika van Proosdij, Gail L. Chmura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

We assess the status of channel networks and pools of two tidal salt marshes recovering from more than a century of agricultural reclamation on the Bay of Fundy, Canada. A process of largely unmanaged restoration occurred at these sites since abandonment of agricultural activities during the first half of the twentieth century. Each recovering marsh was compared to a reference marsh that was never drained or ditched. We field mapped channel networks at all marshes and used aerial photographs to map the pre-abandonment channel network at one of the sites. The recovering marshes have hybrid channel networks that feature highly variable channel morphologies, loss of original channels, and incorporation of drainage ditches. Although channel networks in recovering marshes integrate agricultural ditches, the recovering marsh networks may not be substantially increased in length or density. Our aerial photograph analysis shows that channel density at one of the recovering marshes is comparable to the pre-abandonment density, but with reduced sinuosity. Field mapping of permanent tidal pools on the lower Bay marshes revealed that pools cover 13% of the recovering marsh, compared to ~5% of the reference marsh. This study demonstrates that these essential marsh features can be regained through restoration or simple abandonment of drainage infrastructure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-160
Number of pages10
JournalEstuaries and Coasts
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2010

Keywords

  • Creeks
  • Ponds
  • Recovering wetlands
  • Restoration
  • Salt marsh
  • Tidal channels

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