Transplant or replace wetland soil: brackish/salt marshes
Overall effectiveness category No evidence found (no assessment)
Number of studies: 0
Background information and definitions
Loose soil can be transplanted from a healthy marsh to one that is being created or restored. Soil could simply be added to a recipient site, or be used to replace material in the recipient site.
Soil transplants can be useful to introduce three key features of a healthy marsh (Anderson & Cowell 2004): (1) a chemically and physically suitable substrate for growth of wetland plants, (2) a mixture of soil organisms such as bacteria, fungi and invertebrates, and (3) a mixture of wetland vegetation (e.g. as seeds, roots, tubers or rhizomes). The vegetation within soil transplants may be more taxonomically and genetically diverse than that which could be introduced, given a fixed budget, by manual planting. However, note that excavating, moving and spreading soil can be expensive (Clewell 1981; Brown & Bedford 1997).
Caution: This action inevitably causes damage to any donor site. Also, transplanted soil could contain invasive plants, animals or microorganisms. A possible solution to these problems is to use soil from healthy marshes or swamps that are earmarked for destruction. Using local donor sites could minimize the spread of invasive species, and make use of communities adapted to local conditions.
Other published names for this action include “salvaged marsh surface replacement”, transplanting “seed banks” and “mulching”. We restrict the latter term to the addition of organic matter, such as domestic compost or seaweed, to the ground surface.
Anderson C.J. & Cowell B.C. (2004) Mulching effects on the seasonally flooded zone of west-central Florida, USA wetlands. Wetlands, 24, 811–819.
Brown S.C. & Bedford B.L. (1997) Restoration of wetland vegetation with transplanted wetland soil: an experimental study. Wetlands, 17, 424–437.
Clewell A.F. (1981) Vegetational restoration techniques on reclaimed phosphate strip mines in Florida. Wetlands, 1, 158–170.