Restoration of former commercial salt evaporation ponds in the San Francisco Bay estuary is intended to reverse a severe decline (>79%) in tidal salt marshes. San Francisco Bay is a critical migratory stopover site and wintering area for shorebirds and waterfowl, and salt ponds are important high tide roosting and foraging areas. Conservation of past bird abundance is a stated goal of area restoration projects, and early adaptive management will be critical for achieving this objective. However, initial avian response at sites restored to tidal flow may not be indicative of long-term results. For example, winter shorebirds at a 529 ha pond breached in 2002 showed a marked increase in shorebird abundance following breaching. Shorebirds comprised 1% of area totals during 1999-2002 and increased to 46% during 2003-2008. These changes accompanied increased tidal range and sedimentation, but minimal vegetation establishment. Conversely, a fully vegetated, restored 216 ha pond in the same system consistently supported less than 2% of all waterbirds in the region. Early restoration may temporarily increase habitat, but managed ponds will be needed for long-term waterbird abundance within a restored pond-marsh system.
Athearn, Nicole D.; Takekawa, John Y.; and Shinn, Joel M.
"Avian response to early tidal salt marsh restoration at former commercial salt evaporation ponds in San Francisco Bay, California, USA,"
Natural Resources and Environmental Issues:
Vol. 15, Article 14.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/nrei/vol15/iss1/14