Stabilization and Erosion Control Value of Oyster Cultch for Intertidal Marsh

Authors

  • David L. Meyer,

    1. National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Beaufort Laboratory, 101 Fivers Island Road, Beaufort, NC 28516-9722, U.S.A.
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  • Edward C. Townsend,

    1. National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Beaufort Laboratory, 101 Fivers Island Road, Beaufort, NC 28516-9722, U.S.A.
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  • Gordon W. Thayer

    1. National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Beaufort Laboratory, 101 Fivers Island Road, Beaufort, NC 28516-9722, U.S.A.
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Abstract

Oyster cultch was added to the lower intertidal fringe of three created Spartina alterniflora marshes to examine its value in protecting the marsh from erosion. Twelve 5-m-wide plots were established at each site, with six randomly selected plots unaltered (non-cultched) and cultch added to the remaining (cultched) plots. Within each cultched plot, cultch was placed along the low tide fringe of the marsh during July 1992, in a band 1.5 m wide by 0.25 m deep. Marsh-edge vegetation stability and sediment erosion were measured for each plot from September 1992 to April 1994. Significant differences (p < 0.05) in marsh-edge vegetation change were detected at the only south-facing site after a major southwester storm. Significantly different rates of sediment erosion and accretion also were observed at this same site. Areas upland of the marsh edge in the cultched areas showed an average accretion of 6.3 cm, while noncultched treatment areas showed an average loss of 3.2 cm. A second site, with a northern orientation, also experienced differential sediment accretion and erosion between treatment type, caused instead by boat wakes that were magnified by the abutment of a dredge effluent pipe across the entire front fringe of the site. During this period we observed significant differences in sediment accumulation, with the areas upland of the marsh edge in the cultched treatment having an average accretion of 2.9 cm and the noncultched an average loss of 1.3 cm.

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