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Tidal marshes: bio-geomorphic self-organization and its implications for resilience to sea level rise nd changing sediment supply (TIGER).

Intertidal landscapes are complex environments located between land and sea, and that are regularly flooded by tides. They provide highly valuable ecosystem services that are threatened by sea level rise and changing sediment supply. Previous studies showed that the small-scale (order of m2) interactions between vegetation dynamics, water flow and sediment transport (so-called bio-geomorphic feedbacks) have a great impact on channel network formation and evolution at the landscape-scale (order of km2). We call this process bio-geomorphic self-organization. The aim of this project is to investigate, for the first time, the impact of plant species traits on biogeomorphic self-organization of intertidal landscapes. More specifically, we hypothesize that (1) different plant species traits lead to the self-organization of different channel network patterns, and (2) the resulting self-organized landscape structures determine the efficiency to distribute and trap sediments on the intertidal floodplain, and hence the resilience (adaptability) of the landscape to sea level rise and decreasing sediment supply.By using a combination of computer model simulations and field observations, we aim at producing new fundamental knowledge on landscape selforganization by bio-geomorphic feedbacks, and its implications for the resilience of intertidal landscapes against environmental changes.
Date:1 May 2018 →  30 Apr 2019
Disciplines:Physical geography and environmental geoscience