Hydrodynamic and Ecological Assessment of Nearshore Restoration: A Modeling Study

Journal Article

Title: Hydrodynamic and Ecological Assessment of Nearshore Restoration: A Modeling Study
Publication Date:
April 10, 2010
Journal: Ecological Modelling
Volume: 221
Issue: 7
Pages: 1043-1053
Publisher: Elsevier

Document Access

Website: External Link


Yang, Z.; Sobocinski, K.; Heatwole, D.; Khangaonkar, T.; Thom, R.; Fuller, R. (2010). Hydrodynamic and Ecological Assessment of Nearshore Restoration: A Modeling Study. Ecological Modelling, 221(7), 1043-1053.

Along the Pacific Northwest coast, much of the estuarine habitat has been lost over the last century to agricultural land use, residential and commercial development, and transportation corridors. As a result, many of the ecological processes and functions have been disrupted. To protect and improve these coastal habitats that are vital to aquatic species, many projects are currently underway to restore estuarine and coastal ecosystems through dike breaches, setbacks, and removals. Understanding site-specific information on physical processes is critical for improving the success of such restoration actions. In this study, a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model was developed to simulate estuarine processes in the Stillaguamish River estuary, where restoration of a 160-acre parcel through dike setback has been proposed. The model was calibrated to observed tide, current, and salinity data for existing conditions and applied to simulate the hydrodynamic responses to two restoration alternatives. Model results were then combined with biophysical data to predict habitat responses within the restoration footprint. Results showed that the proposed dike removal would result in desired tidal flushing and conditions that would support four habitat types on the restoration footprint. At the estuary scale, restoration would substantially increase the proportion of area flushed with freshwater (<5 ppt) at flood tide. Potential implications of predicted changes in salinity and flow dynamics are discussed relative to the distribution of tidal marsh habitat.

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