Full Title: Linking community and food-web approaches to restoration: An ecological assessment of created and natural marshes influenced by river diversions.

Lead Investigator (Institution): Michael J. Polito (Louisiana State University)

Co-Investigators (Institution): Annette S. Engel (University of Tennessee-Knoxville), Linda M. Hooper-Bui (Louisiana State University)Olaf P. Jenson (Rutgers University)Paola Lopez-Duarte (Rutgers University)Charles W. Martin (University of Florida)Jill A. Olin (Michigan Technological University), Nancy N. Rabalais (Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and Louisiana State University)Brian J. Roberts (Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium), and Erick Swenson (Louisiana State University)

NOAA Technical Point of Contact: Frank Parker (

Award Amount: $2,057,684

Award Period: June 1, 2017 – May 31, 2020

Summary: Coastal land loss in Louisiana has claimed more than 4,800 km2 since the 1930s. Without preventative action, an additional 4,500 km2 of land will disappear in the next 50 years. Restoration efforts have included modifying hydrologic patterns and construction of tidal marshes and river diversions to reconnect the Mississippi River to adjacent estuaries. While these restoration efforts have shown promise for reducing land loss, little is known about their impacts on the composition of the plants and animals in a coastal marsh and their food web structure. This research seeks to expand our knowledge of the effects of river diversions on natural versus created marshes in Louisiana. Researchers will determine species composition, abundances, and food web structure in natural marshes along varying levels of salinity that result from a river diversion. They will also examine species composition, abundances, and food web structure in created marshes that differ in age influenced by this same river diversion. Finally, the data collected from the marshes will be incorporated into an ecosystem model to predict the impact of salinity changes and habitat restoration efforts on marsh food web structure, function, and resilience. To ensure the research is connected to the questions resource managers need answered, the research team will work with an advisory panel comprised of representatives from local, state, and federal agencies responsible for managing and restoring coastal resources.