Publications by authors named "Camille L Stagg"

12 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Modeling impacts of drought-induced salinity intrusion on carbon dynamics in tidal freshwater forested wetlands.

Ecol Appl 2022 Jun 25:e2700. Epub 2022 Jun 25.

U. S. Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, Lafayette, Louisiana, USA.

Tidal freshwater forested wetlands (TFFW) provide critical ecosystem services including essential habitat for a variety of wildlife species and significant carbon sinks for atmospheric carbon dioxide. However, large uncertainties remain concerning the impacts of climate change on the magnitude and variability of carbon fluxes and storage across a range of TFFW. In this study, we developed a process-driven Tidal Freshwater Wetlands DeNitrification-DeComposition model (TFW-DNDC) that has integrated new features, such as soil salinity effects on plant productivity and soil organic matter decomposition to explore carbon dynamics in TFFW in response to drought-induced saltwater intrusion. Eight sites along the floodplains of the Waccamaw River (USA) and the Savannah River (USA) were selected to represent TFFW transition from healthy to moderately and highly salt-impacted forests, and eventually to oligohaline marshes. TFW-DNDC was calibrated and validated using field observed annual litterfall, stem growth, root growth, soil heterotrophic respiration and soil organic carbon storage. Analyses indicate that plant productivity and soil carbon sequestration in TFFW could change substantially in response to increased soil porewater salinity and reduced soil water table due to drought, but in interactive ways dependent on the river simulated. Such responses are variable due to non-linear relationships between carbon cycling processes and environmental drivers. Plant productivity, plant respiration, soil organic carbon sequestration rate and storage in the highly salt-impacted forest sites decreased significantly under drought conditions compared to normal conditions. Considering the high likelihood of healthy and moderately salt-impacted forests becoming highly salt-impacted forests under future climate change and sea-level rise, it is very likely that TFFW will lose their capacity as carbon sinks without up-slope migration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eap.2700DOI Listing
June 2022

Improved wetland soil organic carbon stocks of the conterminous U.S. through data harmonization.

Front Soil Sci 2021 Oct;1:1-16

United States Geological Survey (USGS), Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, Lafayette, LA 70506.

Wetland soil stocks are important global repositories of carbon (C) but are difficult to quantify and model due to varying sampling protocols, and geomorphic/spatio-temporal discontinuity. Merging scales of soil-survey spatial extents with wetland-specific point-based data offers an explicit, empirical and updatable improvement for regional and continental scale soil C stock assessments. Agency-collected and community-contributed soil datasets were compared for representativeness and bias, with the goal of producing a harmonized national map of wetland soil C stocks with error quantification for wetland areas of the conterminous United States (CONUS) identified by the USGS National Landcover Change Dataset. This allowed an empirical predictive model of SOC density to be applied across the entire CONUS using relational %OC distribution alone. A broken-stick quantile-regression model identified %OC with its relatively high analytical confidence as a key predictor of SOC density in soil segments; soils less than 6% OC (hereafter, mineral wetland soils, 85% of the dataset) had a strong linear relationship of %OC to SOC density (RMSE = 0.0059, ~4% mean RMSE) and soils greater than 6% OC (organic wetland soils, 15% of the dataset) had virtually no predictive relationship of %OC to SOC density (RMSE = 0.0348 g C cm, ~56% mean RMSE). Disaggregation by vegetation type, or region did not alter the breakpoint significantly (6% OC) nor improve model accuracies for inland and tidal wetlands. Similarly, SOC stocks in tidal wetlands were related to %OC, but without a mappable product for disaggregation to improve accuracy by soil class, region or depth. Our layered, harmonized CONUS wetland soil maps revised wetland SOC stock estimates downward by 24% (9.5 vs. 12.5Pg C) with the overestimation being entirely an issue of inland, organic wetland soils, (35% lower than SSURGO-derived SOC stocks). Further, SSURGO underestimated soil carbon stocks at depth, as modeled wetland SOC stocks for organic-rich soils showed significant preservation downcore in the NWCA dataset (<3% loss between 0-30 cm and 30-100 cm depths) in contrast to mineral-rich soils (37% downcore stock loss). Future CONUS wetland soil C assessments will benefit from focused attention on improved organic wetland soil measurements, land history, and spatial representativeness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fsoil.2021.706701DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8675062PMC
October 2021

Belowground productivity varies by assessment technique, vegetation type, and nutrient availability in tidal freshwater forested wetlands transitioning to marsh.

PLoS One 2021 16;16(7):e0253554. Epub 2021 Jul 16.

National Park Service, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America.

Wetlands along upper estuaries are characterized by dynamic transitions between forested and herbaceous communities (marsh) as salinity, hydroperiod, and nutrients change. The importance of belowground net primary productivity (BNPP) associated with fine and coarse root growth also changes but remains the dominant component of overall productivity in these important blue carbon wetlands. Appropriate BNPP assessment techniques to use in various tidal wetlands are not well-defined, and could make a difference in BNPP estimation. We hypothesized that different BNPP techniques applied among tidal wetlands differ in estimation of BNPP and possibly also correlate differently with porewater nutrient concentrations. We compare 6-month and 12-month root ingrowth, serial soil coring techniques utilizing two different calculations, and a mass balance approach (TBCA, Total Belowground Carbon Allocation) among four tidal wetland types along each of two river systems transitioning from freshwater forest to marsh. Median values of BNPP were 266 to 2946 g/m2/year among all techniques used, with lower BNPP estimation from root ingrowth cores and TBCA (266-416 g/m2/year), and higher BNPP estimation from serial coring of standing crop root biomass (using Smalley and Max-Min calculation methods) (2336-2946 g/m2/year). Root turnover (or longevity) to a soil depth of 30 cm was 2.2/year (1.3 years), 2.7/year (1.1 years), 4.5/year (0.9 years), and 1.2/year (2.6 years), respectively, for Upper Forest, Middle Forest, Lower Forest, and Marsh. Marsh had greater root biomass and BNPP, with slower root turnover (greater root longevity) versus forested wetlands. Soil porewater concentrations of NH3 and reactive phosphorus stimulated BNPP in the marsh when assessed with short-deployment BNPP techniques, indicating that pulses of mineralized nutrients may stimulate BNPP to facilitate marsh replacement of forested wetlands. Overall, ingrowth techniques appeared to represent forested wetland BNPP adequately, while serial coring may be necessary to represent herbaceous plant BNPP from rhizomes as marshes replace forested wetlands.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0253554PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8284669PMC
November 2021

Scaling responses of leaf nutrient stoichiometry to the lakeshore flooding duration gradient across different organizational levels.

Sci Total Environ 2020 Oct 28;740:139740. Epub 2020 May 28.

Jiangxi Province Key Laboratory of Watershed Ecosystem Change and Biodiversity, Center for Watershed Ecology, Institute of Life Science and School of Life Sciences, Nanchang University, 999 Xuefu road, Nanchang 330031, PR China; National Ecosystem Research Station of Jiangxi Poyang Lake Wetland, Nanchang 330038, PR China; Guangxi Key Laboratory of Water Engineering Materials and Structures, Guangxi Hydraulic Research Institute, Nanning, China. Electronic address:

Most wetlands have been subject to changes in flooding regimes by climate change and human activities, resulting in widespread alteration of wetland plants at different organizational levels. However, scaling the responses of wetland plants to changes in flooding regimes is still challenging, because flooding could indirectly affect wetland plants through affecting environment factors (e.g. soil properties). During the non-flooding period, we investigated leaf N and P stoichiometry at three organizational levels (intra-species, inter-species, inter-community) along a flooding duration gradient in a lakeshore meadow of Poyang Lake floodplain, China. At the intra-species level, leaf N and P stoichiometry showed species-specific responses to flooding duration. At the inter-species level, leaf N or P contents or N:P ratio showed no significant response to flooding duration. At the inter-community level, leaf N and P contents significantly increased with flooding duration, while leaf N:P ratio decreased. At each organizational level, leaf N and P stoichiometry showed poor correlation with soil N and P stoichiometry. Moreover, intra-specific responses of leaf N and P contents to flooding duration and soil nutrient content increased with mean flooding duration of species distribution, which was the index of species hydrological niche. Intraspecific variation had lower contribution than species turnover to variations in community leaf nutrient stoichiometry. In all, flooding duration affected leaf N and P stoichiometry mainly through direct pathway at the intra-species and inter-community level, rather than the indirect pathway via soil nutrient stoichiometry. Therefore, our results have implications for scaling up from environmental conditions to ecosystem processes via wetland plant communities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139740DOI Listing
October 2020

Rapid peat development beneath created, maturing mangrove forests: ecosystem changes across a 25-yr chronosequence.

Ecol Appl 2020 06 2;30(4):e02085. Epub 2020 Mar 2.

U.S. Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, 700 Cajundome Blvd, Lafayette, Louisiana, 70506, USA.

Mangrove forests are among the world's most productive and carbon-rich ecosystems. Despite growing understanding of factors controlling mangrove forest soil carbon stocks, there is a need to advance understanding of the speed of peat development beneath maturing mangrove forests, especially in created and restored mangrove forests that are intended to compensate for ecosystem functions lost during mangrove forest conversion to other land uses. To better quantify the rate of soil organic matter development beneath created, maturing mangrove forests, we measured ecosystem changes across a 25-yr chronosequence. We compared ecosystem properties in created, maturing mangrove forests to adjacent natural mangrove forests. We also quantified site-specific changes that occurred between 2010 and 2016. Soil organic matter accumulated rapidly beneath maturing mangrove forests as sandy soils transitioned to organic-rich soils (peat). Within 25 yr, a 20-cm deep peat layer developed. The time required for created mangrove forests to reach equivalency with natural mangrove forests was estimated as (1) <15 yr for herbaceous and juvenile vegetation, (2) ~55 yr for adult trees, (3) ~25 yr for the upper soil layer (0-10 cm), and (4) ~45-80 yr for the lower soil layer (10-30 cm). For soil elevation change, the created mangrove forests were equivalent to or surpassed natural mangrove forests within the first 5 yr. A comparison to chronosequence studies from other ecosystems indicates that the rate of soil organic matter accumulation beneath maturing mangrove forests may be among the fastest globally. In most peatland ecosystems, soil organic matter formation occurs slowly (over centuries, millennia); however, these results show that mangrove peat formation can occur within decades. Peat development, primarily due to subsurface root accumulation, enables mangrove forests to sequester carbon, adjust their elevation relative to sea level, and adapt to changing conditions at the dynamic land-ocean interface. In the face of climate change and rising sea levels, coastal managers are increasingly concerned with the longevity and functionality of coastal restoration efforts. Our results advance understanding of the pace of ecosystem development in created, maturing mangrove forests, which can improve predictions of mangrove forest responses to global change and ecosystem restoration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eap.2085DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7423248PMC
June 2020

Quantifying hydrologic controls on local- and landscape-scale indicators of coastal wetland loss.

Ann Bot 2020 02;125(2):365-376

US Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, Lafayette LA, USA.

Background And Aims: Coastal wetlands have evolved to withstand stressful abiotic conditions through the maintenance of hydrologic feedbacks between vegetation production and flooding. However, disruption of these feedbacks can lead to ecosystem collapse, or a regime shift from vegetated wetland to open water. To prevent the loss of critical coastal wetland habitat, we must improve understanding of the abiotic-biotic linkages among flooding and wetland stability. The aim of this research was to identify characteristic landscape patterns and thresholds of wetland degradation that can be used to identify areas of vulnerability, reduce flooding threats and improve habitat quality.

Methods: We measured local- and landscape-scale responses of coastal wetland vegetation to flooding stress in healthy and degrading coastal wetlands. We hypothesized that conversion of Spartina patens wetlands to open water could be defined by a distinct change in landscape configuration pattern, and that this change would occur at a discrete elevation threshold.

Key Results: Despite similarities in total land and water cover, we observed differences in the landscape configuration of vegetated and open water pixels in healthy and degrading wetlands. Healthy wetlands were more aggregated, and degrading wetlands were more fragmented. Generally, greater aggregation was associated with higher wetland elevation and better drainage, compared with fragmented wetlands, which had lower elevation and poor drainage. The relationship between vegetation cover and elevation was non-linear, and the conversion from vegetated wetland to open water occurred beyond an elevation threshold of hydrologic stress.

Conclusions: The elevation threshold defined a transition zone where healthy, aggregated, wetland converted to a degrading, fragmented, wetland beyond an elevation threshold of 0.09 m [1988 North American Vertical Datum (NAVD88)] [0.27 m mean sea level (MSL)], and complete conversion to open water occurred beyond 0.03 m NAVD88 (0.21 m MSL). This work illustrates that changes in landscape configuration can be used as an indicator of wetland loss. Furthermore, in conjunction with specific elevation thresholds, these data can inform restoration and conservation planning to maximize wetland stability in anticipation of flooding threats.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcz144DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7442328PMC
February 2020

Climate and plant controls on soil organic matter in coastal wetlands.

Glob Chang Biol 2018 11 29;24(11):5361-5379. Epub 2018 Jul 29.

Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Lafayette, Louisiana.

Coastal wetlands are among the most productive and carbon-rich ecosystems on Earth. Long-term carbon storage in coastal wetlands occurs primarily belowground as soil organic matter (SOM). In addition to serving as a carbon sink, SOM influences wetland ecosystem structure, function, and stability. To anticipate and mitigate the effects of climate change, there is a need to advance understanding of environmental controls on wetland SOM. Here, we investigated the influence of four soil formation factors: climate, biota, parent materials, and topography. Along the northern Gulf of Mexico, we collected wetland plant and soil data across elevation and zonation gradients within 10 estuaries that span broad temperature and precipitation gradients. Our results highlight the importance of climate-plant controls and indicate that the influence of elevation is scale and location dependent. Coastal wetland plants are sensitive to climate change; small changes in temperature or precipitation can transform coastal wetland plant communities. Across the region, SOM was greatest in mangrove forests and in salt marshes dominated by graminoid plants. SOM was lower in salt flats that lacked vascular plants and in salt marshes dominated by succulent plants. We quantified strong relationships between precipitation, salinity, plant productivity, and SOM. Low precipitation leads to high salinity, which limits plant productivity and appears to constrain SOM accumulation. Our analyses use data from the Gulf of Mexico, but our results can be related to coastal wetlands across the globe and provide a foundation for predicting the ecological effects of future reductions in precipitation and freshwater availability. Coastal wetlands provide many ecosystem services that are SOM dependent and highly vulnerable to climate change. Collectively, our results indicate that future changes in SOM and plant productivity, regulated by cascading effects of precipitation on freshwater availability and salinity, could impact wetland stability and affect the supply of some wetland ecosystem services.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14376DOI Listing
November 2018

Resource competition model predicts zonation and increasing nutrient use efficiency along a wetland salinity gradient.

Ecology 2018 03 30;99(3):670-680. Epub 2018 Jan 30.

U.S. Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, 700 Cajundome Boulevard, Lafayette, Louisiana, 70506, USA.

A trade-off between competitive ability and stress tolerance has been hypothesized and empirically supported to explain the zonation of species across stress gradients for a number of systems. Since stress often reduces plant productivity, one might expect a pattern of decreasing productivity across the zones of the stress gradient. However, this pattern is often not observed in coastal wetlands that show patterns of zonation along a salinity gradient. To address the potentially complex relationship between stress, zonation, and productivity in coastal wetlands, we developed a model of plant biomass as a function of resource competition and salinity stress. Analysis of the model confirms the conventional wisdom that a trade-off between competitive ability and stress tolerance is a necessary condition for zonation. It also suggests that a negative relationship between salinity and production can be overcome if (1) the supply of the limiting resource increases with greater salinity stress or (2) nutrient use efficiency increases with increasing salinity. We fit the equilibrium solution of the dynamic model to data from Louisiana coastal wetlands to test its ability to explain patterns of production across the landscape gradient and derive predictions that could be tested with independent data. We found support for a number of the model predictions, including patterns of decreasing competitive ability and increasing nutrient use efficiency across a gradient from freshwater to saline wetlands. In addition to providing a quantitative framework to support the mechanistic hypotheses of zonation, these results suggest that this simple model is a useful platform to further build upon, simulate and test mechanistic hypotheses of more complex patterns and phenomena in coastal wetlands.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2131DOI Listing
March 2018

Causal mechanisms of soil organic matter decomposition: deconstructing salinity and flooding impacts in coastal wetlands.

Ecology 2017 Aug 28;98(8):2003-2018. Epub 2017 Jun 28.

Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, Clemson University, Georgetown, South Carolina, 29442, USA.

Coastal wetlands significantly contribute to global carbon storage potential. Sea-level rise and other climate-change-induced disturbances threaten coastal wetland sustainability and carbon storage capacity. It is critical that we understand the mechanisms controlling wetland carbon loss so that we can predict and manage these resources in anticipation of climate change. However, our current understanding of the mechanisms that control soil organic matter decomposition, in particular the impacts of elevated salinity, are limited, and literature reports are contradictory. In an attempt to improve our understanding of these complex processes, we measured root and rhizome decomposition and developed a causal model to identify and quantify the mechanisms that influence soil organic matter decomposition in coastal wetlands that are impacted by sea-level rise. We identified three causal pathways: (1) a direct pathway representing the effects of flooding on soil moisture, (2) a direct pathway representing the effects of salinity on decomposer microbial communities and soil biogeochemistry, and (3) an indirect pathway representing the effects of salinity on litter quality through changes in plant community composition over time. We used this model to test the effects of alternate scenarios on the response of tidal freshwater forested wetlands and oligohaline marshes to short- and long-term climate-induced disturbances of flooding and salinity. In tidal freshwater forested wetlands, the model predicted less decomposition in response to drought, hurricane salinity pulsing, and long-term sea-level rise. In contrast, in the oligohaline marsh, the model predicted no change in response to drought and sea-level rise, and increased decomposition following a hurricane salinity pulse. Our results show that it is critical to consider the temporal scale of disturbance and the magnitude of exposure when assessing the effects of salinity intrusion on carbon mineralization in coastal wetlands. Here, we identify three causal mechanisms that can reconcile disparities between long-term and short-term salinity impacts on organic matter decomposition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ecy.1890DOI Listing
August 2017

Created mangrove wetlands store belowground carbon and surface elevation change enables them to adjust to sea-level rise.

Sci Rep 2017 04 21;7(1):1030. Epub 2017 Apr 21.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gulf Ecology Division, 1 Sabine Island Drive, Gulf Breeze, Florida, 32561, USA.

Mangrove wetlands provide ecosystem services for millions of people, most prominently by providing storm protection, food and fodder. Mangrove wetlands are also valuable ecosystems for promoting carbon (C) sequestration and storage. However, loss of mangrove wetlands and these ecosystem services are a global concern, prompting the restoration and creation of mangrove wetlands as a potential solution. Here, we investigate soil surface elevation change, and its components, in created mangrove wetlands over a 25 year developmental gradient. All created mangrove wetlands were exceeding current relative sea-level rise rates (2.6 mm yr), with surface elevation change of 4.2-11.0 mm yr compared with 1.5-7.2 mm yr for nearby reference mangroves. While mangrove wetlands store C persistently in roots/soils, storage capacity is most valuable if maintained with future sea-level rise. Through empirical modeling, we discovered that properly designed creation projects may not only yield enhanced C storage, but also can facilitate wetland persistence perennially under current rates of sea-level rise and, for most sites, for over a century with projected medium accelerations in sea-level rise (IPCC RCP 6.0). Only the fastest projected accelerations in sea-level rise (IPCC RCP 8.5) led to widespread submergence and potential loss of stored C for created mangrove wetlands before 2100.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-01224-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5430729PMC
April 2017

Beyond just sea-level rise: considering macroclimatic drivers within coastal wetland vulnerability assessments to climate change.

Glob Chang Biol 2016 Jan 18;22(1):1-11. Epub 2015 Nov 18.

U.S. Geological Survey, Lafayette, LA, 70506, USA.

Due to their position at the land-sea interface, coastal wetlands are vulnerable to many aspects of climate change. However, climate change vulnerability assessments for coastal wetlands generally focus solely on sea-level rise without considering the effects of other facets of climate change. Across the globe and in all ecosystems, macroclimatic drivers (e.g., temperature and rainfall regimes) greatly influence ecosystem structure and function. Macroclimatic drivers have been the focus of climate change-related threat evaluations for terrestrial ecosystems, but largely ignored for coastal wetlands. In some coastal wetlands, changing macroclimatic conditions are expected to result in foundation plant species replacement, which would affect the supply of certain ecosystem goods and services and could affect ecosystem resilience. As examples, we highlight several ecological transition zones where small changes in macroclimatic conditions would result in comparatively large changes in coastal wetland ecosystem structure and function. Our intent in this communication is not to minimize the importance of sea-level rise. Rather, our overarching aim is to illustrate the need to also consider macroclimatic drivers within vulnerability assessments for coastal wetlands.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13084DOI Listing
January 2016

Controls on resilience and stability in a sediment-subsidized salt marsh.

Ecol Appl 2011 Jul;21(5):1731-44

Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803, USA.

Although the concept of self-design is frequently employed in restoration, reestablishment of primary physical drivers does not always result in a restored ecosystem having the desired ecological functions that support system resilience and stability. We investigated the use of a primary environmental driver in coastal salt marshes, sediment availability, as a means of promoting the resilience and stability of submerging deltaic salt marshes, which are rapidly subsiding due to natural and human-induced processes. We conducted a disturbance-recovery experiment across a gradient of sediment slurry addition to assess the roles of sediment elevation and soil physico-chemical characteristics on vegetation resilience and stability in two restored salt marshes of differing age (a 15-year-old site and a 5-year-old site). Salt marshes that received moderate intensities of sediment slurry addition with elevations at the mid to high intertidal zone (2-11 cm above local mean sea level; MSL) were more resilient than natural marshes. The primary regulator of enhanced resilience and stability in the restored marshes was the alleviation of flooding stress observed in the natural, unsubsidized marsh. However, stability reached a sediment addition threshold, at an elevation of 11 cm above MSL, with decreasing stability in marshes above this elevation. Declines in resilience and stability above the sediment addition threshold were principally influenced by relatively dry conditions that resulted from insufficient and infrequent flooding at high elevations. Although the older restored marsh has subsided over time, areas receiving too much sediment still had limited stability 15 years later, emphasizing the importance of applying the appropriate amount of sediment to the marsh. In contrast, treated marshes with elevations 2-11 cm above MSL were still more resilient than the natural marsh 15 years after restoration, illustrating that when performed correctly, sediment slurry addition can be a sustainable restoration technique.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/09-2128.1DOI Listing
July 2011
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