Despite the importance of the ecosystem services wetlands provide, a significant amount of wetland area has been lost and what remains is often degraded by human activity, including the conversion of wetlands to artificial salt ponds. One way to compensate for the loss of historic wetlands and habitat conversion is restoration. The focus of this thesis is the restoration of two subtidal salt ponds in San Diego Bay back to tidal vegetated salt marsh. This study examined the restoration trajectory of these two ponds over time in comparison with an adjacent unaltered marsh. Benthic macroinvertebrate communities and food web structure in the ponds were analyzed in pre- and post-restoration time periods over seven years to track restoration progress. Both invertebrate abundance and diversity increased in restored ponds over time, although at a quicker rate in one pond. A more complex food web also developed sooner for some feeding groups in this same pond. Invertebrate community structure in the two restored ponds followed different trajectories of change than the unaltered marsh. These results were compared to analysis of M-AMBI, a macrobenthic index to assess ecosystem health, which indicated that traditional monitoring metrics like abundance do not always correlate to ecosystem health. These results demonstrate how different statistical analyses and metrics can be used to assess salt marsh restoration in lieu of a proper reference site. In addition, they demonstrate that macrofauna communities can experience a relatively quick recovery following salt pond restoration and that this recovery is facilitated by the location of a marsh and increased tidal influence.
|Commitee:||Allen, Bengt, Pernet, Bruno|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 58/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Food web, Invertebrates, Restoration, Salt marsh, Salt ponds, Stable isotope analysis|
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