Primary Producers and Nutrient Concentrations: Marsh platform primary producer biomass and diversity as well as benthic microalgal biomass are quantified along with phytoplankton biomass in the channels adjacent to the marsh. Additionally, marsh soil and adjacent channel water are characterized in terms of salinity, temperature, pH, and carbon and nutrient concentrations.
Microbiology: Soil cores, sediment cores, and water samples are collected for analysis of relative and quantitative abundances for bacterial, archaea, and fungi (referred to as total microbial diversity), total environmental DNA, and microbial biomass. Data describe changes in microbial diversity, relative abundances, and community structure that may be similar or different among the sampled natural and created marshes.
Infaunal benthos: Infaunal benthos (> 0.5 mm) will be collected using core samples, preserved, and identified to lowest possible taxon. From these fundamental data, there will be a determination of mean species richness, abundance, diversity, and estimates of biomass for food web structure.
Macroinvertebrates: Epibenthic invertebrates (crabs, bivalves, and gastropods) will be collected, near the core samples and at the marsh edge. Specifically, density analysis will focus on three representative intertidal macroinvertebrates, Fiddler crabs, marsh periwinkles, and Gulf ribbed mussels. Crab burrow density is used as a proxy for crab abundance with burrow diameter as a proxy for crab size.
Aquatic and terrestrial insects and spiders: Terrestrial arthropods (insects and spiders) are sampled on plots using sweep nets. Emergence traps and aquatic net sampling are also incorporated to capture aquatic insects at the marsh edge and platform. Samples are frozen in the field and identified in the laboratory to the species level.
Fish: Marsh fish and nekton composition and abundance (catch per unit effort) are quantified using fyke nets and wire mesh traps. Off-marsh fish and nekton communities will be quantitatively sampled using replicated tows of a 5 m otter trawl behind a small research vessel. All captured specimens are identified to the lowest taxonomic level possible, measured, and subsampled for isotopic content as needed. Otoliths will be extracted from some samples.