Created versus natural wetlands: avian communities in Virginia salt marshes

  • Published source details Desrochers D.W., Keagy J.C. & Cristol D.A. (2008) Created versus natural wetlands: avian communities in Virginia salt marshes. Écoscience, 15, 36-43.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Restore/create brackish/saline marshes or swamps (multiple actions)

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation
  1. Restore/create brackish/saline marshes or swamps (multiple actions)

    A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 2001–2002 of 22 coastal salt marshes in Virginia, USA (Desrochers et al. 2008) found that marshes created using multiple interventions had similar plant species richness, overall vegetation cover and shrub cover to natural marshes, but that the created marshes had lower cover of short vegetation than the natural marshes. After 9–20 years, there was no significant difference between created and natural marshes in plant species richness (created: 4.1; natural: 5.7 species/marsh), overall vegetation cover (created: 83%; natural: 80%) and shrub cover (created: 2%; natural: 3%). Both marsh types had statistically similar cover of tall vegetation (created: 9%; natural: 13%). However, created marshes had lower cover of short vegetation (created: 9%; natural: 27%) and greater cover of medium-height vegetation (created: 63%; natural: 35%). Seven plant species found in the natural marshes were absent from the created marshes. Methods: In May–July 2001 and 2002, vegetation was surveyed in 11 pairs of marshes (matched by size, shape and surrounding land use). In each pair, one marsh had been created 9–20 years previously and one was natural. Marsh creation involved removing upland soil, reprofiling to a suitable slope, creating a connection to a tidal creek, and planting (mostly grasses/rushes, sometimes shrubs; 6 of 11 marshes planted with only one species). In each of six surveys, the cover of every plant species and bare mud were recorded along 2–6 transects/marsh (transects 100 m long).

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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