Pelican Spit Fauna Sampling
Three created salt marshes in Galveston Bay were compared examining densities of nekton and other fauna (Minello et.al., 2000) under partial funding from the NOAA RC. The dredged material marshes were of different ages, ranging from less than a year old to approximately nine years. Sampling of the sites began in fall 1992 and continued in the fall and spring through 1994 at two marsh elevations using enclosure samplers. Four months following the planting of the youngest marsh (July 1992 planting date) faunal densities were lower than in the marshes that were of a nine and five years post planting age. Significantly lower densities of the dominant snail, shrimps, blue crabs, hermit crabs, and the dominant fish species were observed in this new marsh, but within one-year densities of these fauna were similar among the created marshes. For less mobile species, densities at the young marsh remained low throughout the study. Faunal composition and densities for created marshes compared with natural marshes within the estuary indicated that the treated marshes were not functioning in a manner similar to natural marshes in terms of supporting production of commercially important resource species such as penaeid shrimp and blue crabs (Minello and Rozas, 2000). The pattern of densities among the three marshes over two years suggested that the youngest marsh reached its maximum habitat support function for those less mobile organisms the first year. These organisms may have found it difficult to recruit as adults into the youngest marsh. A comparison of functioning of the three created marshes with older, natural marshes around the bay was performed. This revealed that the created marshes actually supported fewer commercially valuable fishery species such as penaeid shrimps and blue crabs than did the natural marshes in the area (Minello 1997).