Assessment of a coastal wetland :the effects of fragmentation by roadways in Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Blecharczyk, Jeffrey.
Michael Simpson, MS
Department of Environmental Studies
Today many ecosystems are faced with fragmentation by roadways as a result of developmental pressures. This study explored a salt marsh complex located in Maine (USA) in which previous road construction and present tidal restrictions have altered parts of the marsh complex. The study was conducted from May to September 2000 in which differences in absolute marsh elevations, pore water salinity levels and changes in vegetation patterns were compared between a reference marsh and sites experiencing tidal restrictions. Absolute surface elevations were collected from numerous points in both study areas and compared using One-Way ANOVA (P = 0.05). Vegetation sampling was conducted along five transects in the reference marsh and six in the restricted marsh to compare plant abundance, species composition and zonation patterns between the reference and restricted marshes. Marsh surface elevations and soil water salinity levels were significantly different between the reference and restricted marshes. Vegetation sampling showed considerably variations in species abundance and composition, while zonation patterns are not as clearly defined. This study concludes that tidal restrictions associated with new Salt Road and the channel berms along Randall Brook are impacting the salt marsh complex located upstream of the gates. This study in of it answers many questions though the work is by no means complete in studying this area. If restoration efforts are to move forward, they should be conducted at the earliest available time and monitored at every step.

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