Salt marshes are coastal ecosystems characterized by high biodiversity and rates of primary productivity, providing fundamental ecosystem services. Salt-marsh ecosystems are important indicators of environmental change as the dynamics are governed by interacting physical and biological processes, whose intertwined feedbacks critically affect the evolution. Settling deposition of inorganic sediment allows the platform to reach a threshold elevation for vegetation encroachment; the presence of vegetation then intensifies rates of accretion, thus, enhancing the resilience of marshes to increasing rates of sea level rise (SLR). The results from a two-dimensional numerical model, accounting for biotic and geomorphic processes, show that different morphological evolutionary regimes are followed depending on marsh biological processes. The average marsh elevation within the tidal frame decreases with increasing rates of SLR, decreasing availability of sediment, and decreasing productivity of vegetation. The spatial variability in platform elevations increases with increasing rates of SLR, increasing availability of sediment, and decreasing productivity of vegetation. Supply-limited settings tend to develop uniform marsh surface elevations, whereas supply-rich settings tend to develop patterns of sedimentation where large heterogeneities in marsh surface elevations occur. The complexity observed in tidal geomorphological patterns is deemed to arise from the mutual influence of biotic and abiotic components. The fate of tidal landforms and their possible geomorphological restoration should, thus, be addressed through approaches which explicitly incorporate bio-morphodynamic processes.

The mutual influence of biotic and abiotic components on the long-term ecomorphodynamic evolution of salt-marsh ecosystems

D'ALPAOS, ANDREA
2011

Abstract

Salt marshes are coastal ecosystems characterized by high biodiversity and rates of primary productivity, providing fundamental ecosystem services. Salt-marsh ecosystems are important indicators of environmental change as the dynamics are governed by interacting physical and biological processes, whose intertwined feedbacks critically affect the evolution. Settling deposition of inorganic sediment allows the platform to reach a threshold elevation for vegetation encroachment; the presence of vegetation then intensifies rates of accretion, thus, enhancing the resilience of marshes to increasing rates of sea level rise (SLR). The results from a two-dimensional numerical model, accounting for biotic and geomorphic processes, show that different morphological evolutionary regimes are followed depending on marsh biological processes. The average marsh elevation within the tidal frame decreases with increasing rates of SLR, decreasing availability of sediment, and decreasing productivity of vegetation. The spatial variability in platform elevations increases with increasing rates of SLR, increasing availability of sediment, and decreasing productivity of vegetation. Supply-limited settings tend to develop uniform marsh surface elevations, whereas supply-rich settings tend to develop patterns of sedimentation where large heterogeneities in marsh surface elevations occur. The complexity observed in tidal geomorphological patterns is deemed to arise from the mutual influence of biotic and abiotic components. The fate of tidal landforms and their possible geomorphological restoration should, thus, be addressed through approaches which explicitly incorporate bio-morphodynamic processes.
2011
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/153656
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