Salinity Stress and Tolerance

Living in any habitat comes with hurdles that make it harder for plants and animals to thrive. We call these hurdles “stress”. Coastal wetlands demonstrate several kinds of stresses to both plants and animals. Through many years of evolution, plants and animals have adapted to living with these stresses, also called being “stress tolerant”. Adaptations can be in physical structure changes or on the smaller scale (cellular). Some stresses that come with living in coastal wetlands include salinity (the amount of salt or ions in the water), inundation (flooding at least above the ground, sometimes even higher than the whole plant), and hypoxia (low dissolved oxygen in the water). [1]

Salt water intrusion has been increased by dredging navigation channels among other impacts. Saltwater intrusion makes fresh bodies of water more saline than they usually are. The problem with this is that the plants that live in such places are adapted to live in fresh water and generally cannot deal with increases in salinity more than 1 or 2 parts per thousand (ppt). For reference, the Gulf of Mexico’s average salinity is approximately 36ppt. Some plants, though, can live in full-strength sea water. For example, the black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) has several adaptations that let it keep its cells safe from high salinity. Like smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), black mangroves excrete salt onto their leaves to get it out of their systems.[2] Some fish have similar adaptations in their gills that allow them to keep their internal salt concentrations at safe levels.

Avicennia_germinans-salt_excretion
Salt Crystals accumulate on A. germinans leaves (Photo by Ulf Mehlig, found on Wikimedia Commons)

 

Works Cited:

[1] Bradford, Nick. “Stressed Wetlands.” NEEF, 10 May 2016, http://www.neefusa.org/nature/land/stressed-wetlands.

[2] Gilman, Sharon. “Plant Adaptations.” ci.coastal.edu/~sgilman/778Plants.htm.

Featured image is of A. germinans from Wikimedia commons, courtesy of Judy Gallagher

Pass Chaland to Grand Bayou Pass Barrier Shoreline Restoration (BA-35)

Above image from lacoast.gov

Reasons for Restoration:

Prior to construction, wetlands, dune, and swale habitats within the project area had undergone substantial loss due to subsidence, absolute sea-level rise, and marine- and wind induced shoreline erosion. In addition, oil and gas activities, such as pipeline construction, also contributed to the loss.

Marine processes acting on the abandoned deltaic headlands rework and redistribute previously deposited sediment. Fragmentary islands develop due to breaches in the barrier headland. Subsequently, increased tidal prism storage (the total volume of salt water that moves in and out of a bay with the tide) and storm-related impacts have led to inlet and pass formation across the newly formed islands. The Bay Joe Wise beach rim was receded and decreased to a critical width that was susceptible to breaching.

Land area in the project area had decreased from 1932 to 2000. Storms occur approximately every 8.3 years along the Barataria shoreline. Because approximately 100 feet of shoreline is eroded with each storm, shorelines of 100 feet or less are considered in imminent danger of breaching.

Restoration Strategies:

The project’s objectives were: 1) preventing the breaching of the Bay Joe Wise shoreline by increasing barrier shoreline width; 2) increasing back-barrier, emergent marsh area by some 226 acres to maintain the barrier shoreline; and 3) creating emergent marsh suitable for tidal aquatic habitats.

The Project features included a constructed beach and dune platform along approximately 2.7 miles of the gulf shoreline. Constructed landward of the beach and dune was a marsh platform with an average width of 860 feet spanning the entire project length. A water exchange channel was incorporated on the western end of the Project to facilitate flushing of Bay Joe Wise through Pass Chaland. The Project created over 420 acres requiring 2.95 million cubic yards of fill dredged from ebb shoal borrow areas. Other project features included installation of sand fencing concurrent with dune construction, dune and marsh vegetative plantings, and post-construction gapping of retention dikes.

FP_BA-35_Banner map.png Above image from lacoast.gov

Location:

The project is located in the Barataria Basin, between Pass Chaland and Grand Bayou Pass in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.

This project is on Priority Project List (PPL) 11.

 

Source: 

Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Task Force “Pass Chaland to Grand Bayou Pass Barrier Shoreline Restoration (BA-35)”. 2 March 2018, https://www.lacoast.gov/reports/gpfs/BA-35.pdf.

Audubon Zoo – Earth Fest

Environmental awareness is an important factor in protecting the earth, and the Audubon Institute understands that. With the help of Entergy, the Audubon Zoo has hosted Earth Fest for over twenty years to date, celebrating conservation and environment-friendly practices.

This past Saturday, March 24, CWPPRA was one of many organizations to be represented at Earth Fest along with Wetland Watchers, EnergySmart, Sea Grant, and many more. Each of these organizations brought educational activities to be enjoyed by children and adults alike, such as demonstrations of energy-saving appliances, composting, and beekeeping strategies. Participants could paint with produce from a local farmer’s market, learn about the similarities in bone structures between humans and manatees, and get their faces painted. When they were not busy visiting the zoo enclosures or talking to organizations, guests could enjoy a number of local food vendors or live performers at the pavilion, including Grammy-winning Lost Bayou Ramblers from south Louisiana.

CWPPRA Public Outreach spent the day handing out informational booklets about restoration projects, posters from the Protect Our Coast series, and activity books, as well as playing our popular “Wetland Jeopardy” game with any and all who were interested. Many eager and interested visitors participated in the Earth Fest Earth Quest, a game that led them to ask questions to appropriate organizations in exchange for a stamp. 10 stamps earned them a prize of a young plant to take home and care for. Earth Fest had a wide range of attractions that hopefully inspired all visitors to be more conscious of environmental issues and to help in the efforts to live for a healthier tomorrow.

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Soil Biology

Soil biology may be considered the most important component of soil health and production [1]. Soil food web’s have tiny, microscopic organisms; also known as microorganisms. These living creatures may be tiny, but they live as very large populations in the soil, and other natural environments like water, air, and plants roots.

Soil_Food_Web

The Four Main Microorganism Groups of Soil:

  1. Soil Bacteria (mostly decomposers) [2].
  2. Soil Fungi
  3. Soil Protozoa (feed mostly on bacteria) [4].
  4. Soil Nematodes (feed on plants, bacteria, fungi, and/or other nematodes) [5].

The other two main groups of Soil Biology:

  1. Soil Arthropods (have no backbone) [6].
  2. Soil Earthworms

Soil Organisms

Microorganisms help bind soil together, which helps clean the soil and hold water for plant life. In ecosystems like wetlands, diverse communities of bacteria can help plants fight off harmful diseases. A major benefit of soil microorganisms is the decomposition of dead plant and animal life, along with the breakdown and creation of nutrients.

Advantages of Soil Organisms: [1, 10].

  • Create healthy nutrients for plants
  • Improve Soil Health and quality (nutrient rich, water holding capacity)
  • Fight off diseases for plants
  • Degrade human-caused pollutants (fertilizers, pesticides used in agriculture)
  • Benefit the food-web as a whole
  • Improve plant health and longevity
  • Microbiomes transform dead plant materials into soil organic matter

The living organisms of the soil provide the requirements needed to support plant, animal, and human life. You can support healthy microorganism communities in soil by: 

  • decreasing or preventing plowing and tilling in garden and agriculture fields [9].
  • plant cover crops to reduce soil erosion and funnel carbon into the atmosphere [9].
  • conserving microbes that provide biomass to plants
  • incorporate soil health management systems into your daily practices [10]
  • protect the soil from weather applying mulch / and or cover crops
  • proper composting

Interesting Facts draft2

Work Cited:
[1] Effective Microorganisms of New Zealand, https://www.emnz.com/article/soil-health-series-soil-microbes
[2] Ingham, Elaine R.  “Soil Bacteria”. USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 26 March 2018, https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/soils/health/biology/?cid=nrcs142p2_053862
[3] Ingham, Elaine R.  “Food Web & Soil Health”. USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 26 March 2018, https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/soils/health/biology/?cid=nrcs142p2_053865
[4] Ingham, Elaine R.  “Soil Protozoa”. USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 26 March 2018, https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/soils/health/biology/?cid=nrcs142p2_053867
[5] Ingham, Elaine R.  “Soil Nematodes”. USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 26 March 2018, https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/soils/health/biology/?cid=nrcs142p2_053866
[6] Moldenke, Andrew R. “Soil Arthropods”. USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 26 March 2018, https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/soils/health/biology/?cid=nrcs142p2_053861
[7] Pollard, Peter. (27 March 2018) "Microbes and the Missing Carbon Dioxide". Tedx Noosa, [Video File], https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48UtbgtFKTg 
[8] USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service “Soil Food Web”. 26 March 2018, https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/soils/health/biology/ 
[9] Wallenstein, Matthew. "To Restore Our Soils, Feed The Microbes". The Conservation, 27 March 2018, https://theconversation.com/to-restore-our-soils-feed-the-microbes-79616
[10] Zimmerman, Chuck. "General Mills Backing Soil Health Program". Ag-Wired, 27 March 2018, http://agwired.com/2017/04/26/general-mills-backing-soil-health-program/
[11] Pollard, Peter. (27 March 2018) "Microbes and the Missing Carbon Dioxide". Tedx Noosa, [Video File], https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48UtbgtFKTg

 

CWPPRA and the Public Working Together

CWPPRA projects are science-based and initiate wetland restoration which is crucial to not only sustain Louisiana’s fisheries but also to protect the region’s people and resources [2]. CWPPRA relies on local input to develop projects that best serve affected residents and invites citizens to participate in project planning and selection” [2].

IMG_5174CWPPRA aims and encourages public participation to all CWPPRA meetings in which community knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation may provide insight about environmental change [1]. As CWPPRA provides public education and involvement, communities “see firsthand how change is impacting their environment and have modified their behaviors to become better environmental stewards” [2].

Restoration activities include meetings and becoming knowledgeable about protection and restoration plans. Citizens who experience flooding, channel navigation, offshore fishing and boating are encouraged to participate in all CWPPRA public meetings.

A WaterMarks interview with Don Davis of LSU SeaGrant mentioned that he believes coastal land loss is a social problem in which families who have lived in the region for more than (7) generations need an active role in finding affordable and workable solutions [1]. Ultimately Davis mentioned that each community requires solutions to coastal land loss to be affordable and have the capacity to proceed quickly with brutal honesty [1].

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWork Cited:

[1] Davis, Don: Interview WaterMarks January 2014, Number 48

[2] WaterMarks: January 2014, Number 48

South Grand Chenier Marsh Creation (ME-20)

ME-20_bannerThe major problem in the Hog Bayou Unit is land loss caused by failed agricultural impoundments and pump-offs. Other problems include saltwater intrusion from the Mermentau Ship Channel and a Gulf shoreline erosion rate of 40 feet per year. Over a period of 60 years, 9,230 acres (38% of the original marsh) was lost from the Hog Bayou Watershed, with the greatest amount of land lost between 1956 and 1974.

The major contributors to land loss in the Watershed are subsidence, compaction, and the oxidization of marsh soils in the former pump-offs and leveed agricultural areas between Hog Bayou and Highway 82. Large areas of marsh south of Highway 82 were “force drained” during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Many of these same areas now consist of open water with very little wetland vegetation. One of the largest areas of current loss is in and north of the project area.

The project’s goal is to create 430 acres and nourish 23 acres of emergent brackish and intermediate marsh. The project goal will be achieved by using dredged material from the Gulf to create two marsh creation cells (176 acres and 277 acres) in the project area east and west of Second Lake.

The project is located south of Grand Chenier in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, between Louisiana Highway 82, Hog Bayou, and east of Second Lake.

ME_20This project was selected for Phase I (engineering and design) funding at the January 2002 Task Force meeting. It is included as part of Priority Project List 11. Engineering and design is complete. Construction funding will be requested in 2013.

This project is on Project Priority List (PPL) #11.

The South Grand Chenier Marsh Creation’s three sponsors include

Family Adventures in Wetland Science

Families in the Lafayette area spent Saturday, March 10 exploring their community and trying a range of activities as part of Family Adventure Day in support of Healing House and the local non-profit’s work with grieving children.  Outreach staff from the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act collaborated with members of US Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, Acadiana Nature Station, and other groups to provide information and fun for the families who stopped by the Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Center. Participants could hold juvenile alligators, make buttons and magnets, learn about local pollinators, and take part in other activities.

CWPPRA staff helped children think about the importance of different types of wetlands while matching native species to the correct habitat. Families could also get Henri Heron Activity Books and Protect Our Coast posters. A general theme of the activities offered at the Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Center was citizen science, and participants learned how to use binoculars, identify birds and bird calls, and about a variety of on-line and app resources for identifying and recording what they see in their own backyards. These data can then be used by scientists to look at where certain species are, how those populations are doing, and when seasonal events like migration occur. Hopefully finding more ways to interact with the species and habitats outside will lead to more family adventures.0310180947a