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  1. Abstract

    Tidal marshes in the Chesapeake Bay are vulnerable to the accelerating rate of sea-level rise (SLR) and subsidence. Restored and created marshes face the same risks as natural marshes, and their resilience to SLR may depend upon appropriate design and implementation. Here, the Coastal Wetland Equilibrium Model (CWEM) was used to assess the resilience of tidal marshes at the Paul S. Sarbanes Ecosystem Restoration Project at Poplar Island (PI) in mid-Chesapeake Bay, MD, where dredged material from navigation channels is being used to create new tidal marshes planted withSpartina alterniflorain the low marsh andS. patensin the high marsh. The site is microtidal with low inorganic sediment inputs, where the rate of marsh elevation change is dominated by the production of organic matter and, therefore, is proportional to net ecosystem production (NEP). The model demonstrated the importance of marsh development for surface elevation gain. In created marshes, the buildout of belowground biomass adds volume and results in faster growth of marsh elevation, but the gains slow as the marsh matures. Elevation gain is the lessor of the recalcitrant fraction of NEP sequestered in sediment or the rate of increase in accommodation space. Marshes can keep up with and fill accommodation space with sequestered NEP up to a tipping point determined by the rate of SLR. The PI low marsh platform was forecasted to drown in about 43 years after construction at the current rate of SLR. Marsh loss can be mitigated by periodic thin layer placement (TLP) of sediment. CWEM was used to simulate PI marsh responses to different TLP strategies and showed that there is an optimal design that will maximize carbon sequestration and resilience depending on the trajectory of mean sea level.

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  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Climate change is altering naturally fluctuating environmental conditions in coastal and estuarine ecosystems across the globe. Departures from long-term averages and ranges of environmental variables are increasingly being observed as directional changes [e.g., rising sea levels, sea surface temperatures (SST)] and less predictable periodic cycles (e.g., Atlantic or Pacific decadal oscillations) and extremes (e.g., coastal flooding, marine heatwaves). Quantifying the short- and long-term impacts of climate change on tidal marsh seascape structure and function for nekton is a critical step toward fisheries conservation and management. The multiple stressor framework provides a promising approach for advancing integrative, cross-disciplinary research on tidal marshes and food web dynamics. It can be used to quantify climate change effects on and interactions between coastal oceans (e.g., SST, ocean currents, waves) and watersheds (e.g., precipitation, river flows), tidal marsh geomorphology (e.g., vegetation structure, elevation capital, sedimentation), and estuarine and coastal nekton (e.g., species distributions, life history adaptations, predator-prey dynamics). However, disentangling the cumulative impacts of multiple interacting stressors on tidal marshes, whether the effects are additive, synergistic, or antagonistic, and the time scales at which they occur, poses a significant research challenge. This perspective highlights the key physical and ecological processes affecting tidal marshes, with an emphasis on the trophic linkages between marsh production and estuarine and coastal nekton, recommended for consideration in future climate change studies. Such studies are urgently needed to understand climate change effects on tidal marshes now and into the future. 
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  3. Sills, Jennifer (Ed.)