By Cindy Palinkas - Associate Professor, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Laboratory
This presentation will provide an overview of our work at two parks within the National Capital Region – Dyke Marsh Preserve (DMP) and Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens (KAQ). At DMP, we found that the vegetation community and sediment accretion respond to changes in environmental parameters (wind-driven sea-level changes and sediment supply from the Potomac River) at multiple time and space scales. However, at KAQ, sediment accretion was supported largely by contribution of organic matter from plants. We will present a conceptual model relating sediment and vegetation dynamics to environmental parameters describing two possible scenarios for future marsh evolution: 1) self-sustaining feedbacks between the vegetation community and sediment dynamics to maintain long-term elevation, and/ or 2) an inundation threshold, beyond which sedimentation rates may become insufficient to maintain long-term elevation.