Linhoss, A.C. and Underwood, W.V., 2016. Modeling salt panne land-cover suitability under sea-level rise.
Salt pannes are an ecologically important but poorly understood feature of the salt marsh environments. Like all coastal marshes, salt pannes are threatened by sea-level rise; therefore, it is important to assess how they will be affected by rising seas. Because of a lack of understanding regarding salt panne formation and the possibly stochastic nature of their development, a traditional and purely deterministic modeling approach is unsuitable for assessing the impacts of sea-level rise on salt pannes. This research used a combination of deterministic and stochastic models to simulate the land-cover suitability for salt pannes in the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Mississippi, under five sea-level rise scenarios, including a rise of 0.25, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 m by 2100. The Sea-Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) simulated general land-cover at the study site. However, SLAMM does not include capabilities for specifically simulating salt panne land-cover. As such, MaxEnt used the results from SLAMM, along with other environmental variables, to specifically simulate the spatial suitability for salt panne land-cover. The results showed that the total wetland and upland areas are predicted to consistently decrease under increasing rates of sea-level rise. However, because of elevation plateaus in the study site, the area of land-cover specifically suitable for salt pannes does not follow the same pattern. The primary environmental driver of salt panne land-cover suitability is elevation, followed by topographic depressional areas. Land cover contributes very little to the model results. This novel use of a land-cover suitability model has important potential for being applied to additional studies to investigate drivers of land-cover change, identify transitional areas, and examine land-cover fitness under competition.