Terraced salt marsh restoration projects have been designed to maximize edge because the edges between habitat types have been shown to be the most productive locations in Spartina alterniflora salt marshes for nekton and benthic infauna. We compared terraced plots with reference plots to see how much edge was created. We also quantified the differences in the spatial patterns of the habitat in the plots. We found that reference marshes had significantly more habitat diversity and more total low marsh area. We also found that reference marshes had a greater absolute amount of low marsh edge. Yet, we found little difference between terraced restoration marshes and nearby reference marshes in Galveston Bay, Texas, USA in terms of the percent of all habitat-to-habitat edge-type combinations that were aquatic edge (water- or seagrass-to-low marsh interface), and much of the reference marshes' area was in core marsh areas that were not suitable for high fisheries production value. Terracing appears an efficient strategy for the sole purpose of creating aquatic edge for fisheries production but does not appear to match other aspects of reference marshes in terms of their habitat composition or spatial configuration. This study shows the potential for using spatial pattern analysis to monitor restoration projects in the future.
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Vol. 26 • No. 4