Vegetation change and surface elevation dynamics in estuarine wetlands of southeast Australia
Vertical accretion and surface elevation trends were studied in mangrove and saltmarsh wetlands in southeast Australia. A total of 69 surface elevation tables, each associated with three feldspar marker horizons, was deployed in 10 wetlands across 7 estuaries, and monitored for three years. Saltmarsh and mangrove vegetation distributions were mapped for the same estuaries, and elevation characteristics of the wetlands were modelled. Rates of vertical accretion were found to correlate with tidal range. No relationship was found between rates of vertical accretion and surface elevation increase. A positive relationship was demonstrated between contemporary rates of saltmarsh surface elevation change and longer-term rates of mangrove encroachment into saltmarsh. We conclude that landward mangrove encroachment may be facilitated by local factors contributing to saltmarsh compaction during drought conditions.