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Webinar: Tidal Wetland Loss, Restoration, and Fish Response: Tales from the Pacific Coast

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Tuesday, 21 January 2020, 12:00

Tuesday, January 21, 2020. 12:00PM. Webinar: Tidal Wetland Loss, Restoration, and Fish Response: Tales from the Pacific Coast. Laura Brophy, Institute for Applied Ecology; and Correigh Greene, NOAA Fisheries, Northwest Fisheries Science Center. Sponsored by NOAA. More information here.

Across the world, tidal wetlands have been reduced to a fraction of their historical extent, posing challenges for coastal communities that rely on their ecosystem services and for species that utilize these wetlands during their life cycles. In this talk, we examine these issues through the lens of estuaries in Washington, Oregon, and California. Our recent research produced new elevation-based maps which reveal the historical extent of U.S. West Coast estuaries. We applied these extents in an indirect assessment of wetland loss, which revealed that 85% of West Coast tidal wetlands have been lost since European settlement. Compounding this problem is emerging wetland loss through climate change. Research in Oregon projects the shifting locations and losses of tidal wetlands under six future sea level rise (SLR) scenarios. Losses vary greatly among estuaries, but coastwide there is near-complete upslope displacement of tidal wetlands (and thus near-complete loss of historical tidal wetlands) at 2.5m SLR. Oregon research also shows that some wetland types such as forested tidal swamps have been disproportionately impacted by past land uses, and these wetland types may be particularly vulnerable to current and future stresses such as SLR. This is important to nursery fish species" several studies have demonstrated that abundance and growth opportunities of native fish fauna are tied to wetland conditions. Restoration is an important tool for bringing back lost wetland functions, yet the many efforts across the three states comprise a small fraction of historical loss.Nevertheless, research is demonstrating that estuary restoration benefits fish populations, and that conservation and restoration of a diversity of wetland types is important. Ongoing research is documenting locations and effects of tidal barriers, spatial extent of restored tidal wetlands, and effects of restoration on productivity in fish populations.

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