Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Chair

Dr. Patrick Biber

Committee Chair School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Member 2

Dr. Zachary Darnell

Committee Member 2 School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Member 3

Dr. Safra Altman


Deer Island is a coastal habitat which provides a buffer from storm and flood damage as well as shore-line stabilization to the mainland of Biloxi, Mississippi. A third of the land has been lost since 1850, largely driven by tropical storm and hurricane impacts as well as sea level rise. The United States Army Corps of Engineers and Mississippi Department of Marine Resources have targeted the shores of the island as sites for restoration using beneficial use dredged material, and two sites of differing age have since been planted with Spartina alterniflora, Juncus roemerianus, Uniola paniculata, S. patens, and Panicum amarum. Ecological assessment and monitoring of this restoration project was completed by measuring elevation, soil condition, vascular plant diversity, biomass, and the stable isotopes δ13 C and δ15 N from Spartina alterniflora tissues. Additionally, sea level rise was projected at the two constructed sites under three scenarios to assess the sites’ vulnerability to rising sea levels. The constructed sites were found to have a diverse array of salt marsh and sand-berm vegetation, but function of the salt marsh in terms of root production and sediment organic carbon deposition remained underdeveloped when compared to the natural reference site. All sites were found to be vulnerable to sea level rise except under the lowest sea level rise scenario. Further monitoring should be completed to observe the development of ecological functions at these constructed marshes.