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Marsh Studies & Restoration

Marshes on deal isl

type amount

Marshes are a primary feature of the Deal Island peninsula, How much? These tidal marshes are influenced by fluctuating water levels driven by tides and are characterized by salt tolerant plants such as black needle rush, smooth cordgrass, and salt marsh hay.  Salt tidal marshes have one of the highest rates of primary productivity associated with wetland ecosystems resulting from the inflow of nutrients and organics from surface and/or tidal water.


What is a wetland


Why care about marshes

Wetland functions include:

  • flood control - the capacity of a wetland to store large volumes of water during floods; wetlands modify the flow in streams by decreasing peak discharge (volume of water over a given time) and increasing time of concentration (time between rainfall/flood event and release of water to streams). function as natural sponges that trap and slowly release surface water, rain, snowmelt,groundwater and flood waters. Trees, root mats, and other wetland vegetation also slow the speed of flood waters and distribute them more slowly over a floodplain. This combined water storage and braking action lowers flood heights and reduces erosion. The holding capacity of wetlands helps control floods and prevents water-logging of crops

  • improved water quality - removal of suspended and dissolved solids and nutrients from surface and ground water and conversion into other forms, such as plant and animal biomass or gases

  • stabilization and retention - the capacity of processes in a wetland to cause the deposition and retention of inorganic and organic sediments from the water column, primarily through physical processes Wetland plants hold the soil in place with their roots, absorb the energy of waves, and break up the energy flow of bay waters

  • fish and wildlife habitat - the capacity of a wetland to produce an abundance and diversity of plant and animal species and communities and habitats for animals that spend all or part of their life cycle in wetlands. Many other animals and plants depend on wetlands for survival.

  • hunting and fishing 


Changing conditions

A wetland’s characteristics evolve when hydrologic conditions cause the water table to saturate or inundate the soil for a certain amount of time each year. Any change in hydrology can significantly alter the soil chemistry and plant and animal communities. Common hydrologic alterations in wetland areas include:Deposition of fill material for development;Drainage for development, farming, and mosquito control;Dredging and stream channelization for navigation, development, and flood control;Diking and damming to form ponds and lakes;Diversion of flow to or from wetlands; andAddition of impervious surfaces in the watershed, thereby increasing water and pollutant runoff into wetlands.put together summary of study area and what results tell us....


what/how do we study?

Our study area is composed of four study sites on the Deal Island peninusla, two sites at the MD DNR EAV Wildlife Management Area, and one site at the Chesapeake Bay NERRS Monie Bay component. We are collecting data at fourty sampling stations at each of the four Deal and Monie Bay sites and thrity stations at the EAV Wildlife area.


each of the following sections include description of what is being collected and what that data will tell us

Hydrology & Water Quality

Data is being collected on water table levels, water quality within the marsh platforms and in ditches and tidal creeks, and weather.  Water levels are being continuously monitored using logging pressure transducers.  Water quality is being evaluated on salinity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, suspended sediment, ammonium, nitrate, phosphate, and sulfides.

Marsh Vegetation

Studying vegetation in the marsh provides useful information on the health of the marsh system.  High productivity levels, high species
counts and evenness of species all indicate a healthy marsh.


We are conducting above and below ground biomass sampling at all of our study sites once a year.  Above ground sampling occurs during peak growing season (late July - early August).  Below ground productivity is estimated using root in growth cores which are installed and harvested annually during the non growing season.


It is expected that restoration will increase the resilience of the marshes to seal level rise and other stressors by restoring marsh hydrology and the ability of the marshed to build vertically.  The MD DNR intends to use ditch plugging as the restoration strategy.  

Marsh Elevation & Soils

Marsh soils are being sampled once a year and  analyzed for water content and bulk density, carbon and nitrogen content, and rubbed fiber content.   Elevation data is being collected during the growing and non growing seasons using marker horizons (surface accretion measurements) in combination with shallow and deep Surface Elevation Tables (SET's provide information on subsidence and surface accretion) .  These data are then compared to site laser leveling data and GPS long-term occupations at local benchmarks to give us true elevation changes in marsh surface. 

Mosquitos & Nekton

Mosquito larval density and species counts are taken following spring tides and selected storm events.

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