A Threatened Ecosystem in a Human-Dominated Landscape: Tidal Marsh Conservation in the Face of Sea-Level Rise
Date of Completion
Conservation biology, Tidal marsh, Sea level rise, Population ecology, Saltmarsh Sparrow, Climate change, Conservation behavior
Chris S. Elphick
Eldridge S. Adams
Stephen K. Swallow
Morgan W. Tingley
Mark C. Urban
Field of Study
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Doctor of Philosophy
Biological conservation is a crisis-driven discipline that is inextricably linked to its broader social, political, and economic context. Historically, conservation research has often been conducted within ecology disciplines and with limited links to this broader context, which has contributed to a gap between research and its real-world implementation. One impediment to creating stronger interdisciplinary links is that it requires the integration of many types of data from across a range of disciplines. Owing to the difficulty of such integration, questions related to the relative importance of different types of knowledge in conservation decision-making have remained largely unexplored. I collected data from a range of sources to explore the role of different information for understanding issues related to the conservation of Long Island Sound’s tidal marshes, a human-dominated ecosystem that is threatened by sea-level rise. By integrating analyses of abiotic, ecological, and social data, I found that 1) there were diminishing returns for incorporating greater statistical complexity and geographic representation of sampling sites when estimating population parameters, 2) high resolution data on tide heights was important for understanding extinction risk in saltmarsh sparrows (Ammodramus caudacutus), 3) data on rates of vegetation change were important for understanding ecological impediments to landward marsh transgression, 4) data on the behavioral intentions of coastal landowners were important for understanding the likely effectiveness of conservation strategies for encouraging marsh transgression, and 5) better data on land costs have greater potential than other types of data to improve the effectiveness of spatial planning.
Field, Christopher R., "A Threatened Ecosystem in a Human-Dominated Landscape: Tidal Marsh Conservation in the Face of Sea-Level Rise" (2016). Doctoral Dissertations. 1106.