Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, and Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign.

Determining habitat function, decomposition, and carbon accumulation across four marsh habitat types in coastal Louisiana


Other Author(s): Other authors: Camille Stagg (USGS) Carey Lynn Perry (LDWF)

The Challenge

The tug-of-war between climate change and associated sea level rise with the efforts to combat those threats through coastal restoration efforts means that the one future certainty facing Louisiana’s coast is change. Preparing to adapt to that future – for communities and infrastructure – means getting a better understanding of what impacts those changes will have on the coastal landscape on which so many people and businesses rely. In much of Louisiana’s coast, the landscape depends on vegetation which can be sensitive to inundation and salinity produced by the expected future alteration of hydrology. Gaining better knowledge of impacts on decomposition rates, vertical accretion rates, and soil carbon accumulation rates in coastal Louisiana is vital for future planning.

The Approach

In order to gain a better understanding of how climate change and restoration efforts can influence Louisiana’s coastal wetlands The Water Institute of the Gulf teamed with the U.S. Geological Survey, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Gulf South Research Corporation, and Tulane University, to sample 24 wetland sites in Barataria and Terrebonne basins across four salinity regimes.

Six sites in each of the four salinity-defined marsh types were included and each were next on a Coastwide Reference Monitoring System site to better utilize this ongoing monitoring system as well as coordinating with previous USGS research sites. 

Researchers examined a range of measurements from short-term soil carbon accumulation rates to decomposition rates to ultimately evaluate how climate change, and restoration efforts, could impact coastal wetlands.