MSU Study Evaluates Gulf of Mexico Wetland Restoration Efforts

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A new Mississippi State research project will study a wetland restoration approach along the Gulf of Mexico, and findings will help improve future environmental restoration efforts.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the organization’s Gulf Research Program recently announced that the MSU project is among five newly funded projects focused on enhancing environmental restoration outcomes, along with two others focused on improving information about public health risks resulting from oil spills.

Brian Davis, associate professor in MSU’s Forest and Wildlife Research Center, is lead project investigator and working in collaboration with Ducks Unlimited and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

The project, titled ‘The Efficacy of Marsh Terraces in Enhancing and Restoring Gulf Coastal Wetlands’, is receiving an $852,386 grant from the National Academies, and MSU researchers hope their findings will help reverse the loss of wetlands along the Gulf of Mexico, which are disappearing at an alarming rate.

In addition to Davis, the research team includes Mark Woodrey and Anna Linhoss, scientists in the university’s Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station; Robert Moorhead, director of MSU’s Geosystems Research Institute; and Mike Brasher, MSU alumnus and biological team leader for Ducks Unlimited.

To determine the study site, researchers will randomly select from the 80 marsh terrace locations that have been constructed in Louisiana and Texas over the last 18 years. These sites will be evaluated and compared to non-terraced sites.

Wave energy, the amount of sediment in the water, size, shape and spacing of terraces and bird usage are just a few of the metrics scientists will record in order to determine the performance of these manmade structures.

Once these data are collected, hydrodynamic models will be constructed to determine the best marsh terrace design for restoration of wetlands.

 

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