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South Bay Salt Pond Restoration-- The Chance of a Lifetime!

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Presentation on theme: "South Bay Salt Pond Restoration-- The Chance of a Lifetime!"— Presentation transcript:

1 South Bay Salt Pond Restoration-- The Chance of a Lifetime!

2 Topics Covered in this Talk Charge of the Science Team What is Restoration? Past and Current Habitats Major Ecological Communities The Science Strategy Some Key Questions Developing Our Knowledge Base



5 Charge of the Science Team Provide scientific direction for restoration planning, implementation and monitoring Bring science into all phases of the process and to all involved parties Develop a science strategy and conceptual models to guide the restoration of South Bay ecosystems Identify critical data needs Identify uncertainties Help guide consultant activities and review products

6 Having a Science Team… Is unique and proactive. Will help to assure that science is included at every phase of the project. Is essential for a successful program.

7 Interdisciplinary Practice of Environmental Restoration Jackson, et al. (1995): Ecological restoration is the process of repairing damage caused by humans to the diversity and dynamics of indigenous ecosystems. Science Technology Regulation/Policy Economics Public Interaction

8 Restoration as Project and as Experiment Planning = Hypothesis Implementation = Run the experiment Monitoring = Collect/analyze data

9 Adaptive Management Using data collected during monitoring to improve restoration projects Apply to the current project to better achieve restoration goals Use to improve the design of future projects


11 Restore to What? What is the Goal? Native, indigenous ecosystem as a goal Improving ecological functioning as a goal Historical view helps guide restoration goals Current conditions guide restoration goals

12 San Francisco Bay Habitats ca. 1800 (SFEI EcoAtlas Project)

13 Our Urbanized Estuary Oakland HarborCarquinez Straights

14 Conversion to Salt Ponds

15 South Bay: Then and Now


17 What are Tidal Salt Marshes? Inundated by tides twice a day Have water-logged, anaerobic soils Dominated by wetland, halophilic plant species: –Cordgrass (Spartina foliosa) –Pickleweed (Salicornia virginica)

18 Cordgrass and Pickleweed

19 Mature Plant Community Zonation Low marsh: cordgrass Mid-marsh: pickleweed High marsh: saltgrass (Distichlis spicata), alkali heath (Frankenia salina), Gumplant (Grindellia humilis) Upland transition: saltgrass, alkali heath, coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis), Atriplex spp.

20 Tidal Marsh Zonation low marsh Spartina foliosa mid-marsh plain Salicornia virginica high marsh - upland transition Salicornia virginica Frankenia salina Distichlis spicata regularly inundated high accretion rates rarely inundated low accretion rates

21 Ecological Succession: Ecosystem Development A salt marsh is formed when an area goes from a disturbed or former salt marsh site from to the mature community Natural restoration is called ecological succession—the process we want to mimic Salt marsh successional phases: –Open water –Mudflat –Vegetated mudflat

22 Tidal Salt Marsh Restoration Begins with Open Water… … and the tides bringing in sediment, organisms and seeds.

23 Next, Mudflats form… …stabilizing at an equilibrium point.

24 Then, Vegetation Colonizes

25 But, This is Not the End of the Process. As the marsh matures… Nutrients build up Species composition changes A mosaic of habitat types develops

26 Marsh Restoration Takes Time Time to reach marsh plain ~5-20 yrs Time for dominant plants ~10-35 yrs Maximum nutrient loads and full ecosystem functioning ~50-100 yrs

27 This Program will Take Time Projects will be implemented in phases –Collect data on progress –Apply to next phases –Collect funding for phases Natural processes take time

28 Salt Ponds as a Major South Bay Wetland Habitat Historically, existed in low acreage Extensively developed from late 1800s to 1940s Are wetland habitats with their own ecology

29 Those Crazy Salt Pond Colors

30 What causes those colors? It’s the microorganisms! Low to mid-salinity: Green algae dominate Salinities increase: The algae, Dunaliella, lends a lighter green color Mid- to High Salinity: Dunaliella produces a red pigment Very High Salinities: Brine shrimp (Artemia franciscana) provide orange colors and Stichococcus (a bacteria) adds red hues

31 Many species use these ponds

32 Avian Biodiversity and Abundance 34 shorebird species—1 million birds 35 waterfowl species—250,000 birds At least 36 species of “other birds” closely associated with San Francisco Bay habitats At least 9 state- and federally-listed threatened or endangered species

33 Bird Species: Continental Population Trends In General: Wetland-dependent bird populations are far below historic levels. Shorebirds: 16 of 47 U.S. species declined over the last 25 years Waterfowl: Steep declines in some species, such as pintail and canvasbacks


35 A Mix of Habitats…

36 …for a Diversity of Species

37 One thing is clear… we cannot go back to the 1800s Must consider importance of habitat changes –Salt ponds provide habitat –Urban conversion is difficult to reverse Must consider existing adjacent land uses –Impacts on the restoration (pollutant runoff) –Restoration impacts on the adjacent land (flood prevention)

38 What is a Science Strategy? Provides a scientific framework –Conceptual Models—landscape and pond- level –Key Questions and Data Needs –Modeling Needs Provides scientific input at all stages of the planning process


40 Why is this project so complex? Adjacent land uses Flood protection Agency requirements Pond subsidence Water quality Species diversity protection Sedimentation rates and patterns

41 Some Key Questions To what extent is the suspended sediment supply adequate for restoration? Can we prevent non-native, invasive species from dominating restored marshes? To what extent might restoration activities release contaminants? What are the ecological effects of released contaminants? What effects will South Bay restoration have on large- scale ecological features and processes?

42 More Key Questions How will the conversion of salt ponds to salt ponds and other habitats affect shorebird and waterfowl numbers? Can remaining ponds be managed to increase their shorebird and waterfowl carrying capacity? What are the predictions for sea-level rise and how will that affect restored South Bay marshes?

43 Developing a Common Base of Understanding Science Team and other experts meet with Work Groups to share ideas Opportunities for public involvement in research, monitoring and data collection Stakeholders give input to the Science Team

44 How might this project effect you? Flood protection is a central goal Public access is also a project issue Changes in species communities Healthier South Bay ecosystem Improved water quality

45 Next Science Team Presentation: Restoration Constraints Scientific Uncertainties Complicating Factors

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