Floristic Quality Index of Restored Wetlands in Coastal Louisiana
Technical Report,01 Oct 2014,30 Jun 2017
Engineer Research and Development Center, Environmental Lab Vicksburg United States
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Restoration efforts in the United States have created or benefitted large expanses of wetlands. Typical goals of wetland restoration efforts are to conserve, create, or enhance wetland form and to achieve wetland function that approaches natural conditions. Measures of wetland condition have been used to monitor and assess project performance, resilience, and adaptive management needs. An emerging tool for performing bioassessments in wetland systems is the Floristic Quality Index FQI. This study assessed the use of a modified FQI FQImod to evaluate site development, plant community establishment, and wetland condition. Three restoration sites in coastal Louisiana were used to evaluate the utility of an FQImod for assessing the performance and resilience of restored wetlands by comparison to reference wetlands. Results demonstrate that the FQImod data successfully reflected large disturbance events namely hurricanes and salinity spikes. The data also identified vegetation differences due to elevation, age, and hydrology. The modified FQI provided useful measures of restoration type e.g., planted versus not planted, marsh creation versus nourishment, chronosequence condition and stability over time, and trajectory i.e., intersecting trend lines when restored marsh FQI approaches reference marsh condition. The FQImod provides a rapid and effective system for assessing wetland condition and performance.