Saltmarsh Angiosperm Assessment Tool for Ireland (SMAATIE)

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Resource or Project Abstract

A tool was developed for the assessment of Irish saltmarshes at a water body level as part of our reporting obligations under the Water Framework Directive. The tool comprises metrics examining saltmarsh extent, the number of vegetation zones present, the relative proportion of these zones, the abundance of the non-native invasive plant Spartina anglica and the frequency of salt-tolerant native species. To assist in development, a vegetation classification for Irish saltmarshes was developed by collating and analysing existing data from over 3,400 quantitative vegetation samples using multivariate statistics. Six classes of vegetation were defined describing the pioneer zone, lower marsh, middle marsh, upper marsh, upper transitional zone, and brackish swamps. The tool was tested using available data for a selection of water bodies. Of the forty water bodies assessed, four (10.0%) had an ecological status of High, fifteen (37.5%) were Good, eighteen (45.0%) were Moderate and three (7.5%) were Poor. The main reason for water bodies failing to make Good status was scoring poorly under the area metric due to widespread land reclamation. Field-testing of the tool and further research into aspects such as eutrophication and grazing is recommended

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr Fiona Devaney
Botanical Environmental & Conservation Consultants Ltd.

Dr Philip Perrin
Botanical Environmental & Conservation Consultants Ltd.

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Data, Files, Information Objects Related To This Project Resource

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Attachment Name and Download Link
Att 1    SMAATIE_End_of_Project_Report_.pdf   (2.79 Mb)
Att 2    EPARR_163_Devaney_SMAATIE.pdf   (2.16 Mb)
Att 3   (14.03 Mb)
Att 4    SMAATIE_tool.xlsx   (1.33 Mb)
Att 5    EQR_data_40WBs.xlsx   (0.02 Mb)
Att 6    Pressure_data.xlsx   (0.06 Mb)

Suggested Citation Information

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Author(s)Devaney, F. Perrin, P.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationSaltmarsh Angiosperm Assessment Tool for Ireland (SMAATIE)
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL
Unique Identifier933c340d-2d15-11e4-b233-005056ae0019
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2024-06-20

An example of this citation in proper usage:

Devaney, F. Perrin, P.   "Saltmarsh Angiosperm Assessment Tool for Ireland (SMAATIE)". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland (Last Accessed: 2024-06-20)


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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL
Resource KeywordsCoastal water bodies; Ecological Quality Ratio; Metrics; Saltmarsh; Transitional water bodies; Vegetation classification; Water Framework Directive
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2013-W-DS-10
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeWater Quality
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceNONE
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 6
Project Start Date Monday 11th November 2013 (11-11-2013)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Monday 11th November 2013 (11-11-2013)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Monday 30th June 2014 (30-06-2014)
Published on SAFERTuesday 26th August 2014 (26-08-2014)
Date of Last EditWednesday 2nd December 2015 at 13:49:51 (02-12-2015)
Datasets or Files Updated On Wednesday 2nd December 2015 at 13:49:51 (02-12-2015)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
Data were collated from a large number of sites along the Irish coast, from Donegal round to Louth. These data were from saltmarsh sites on open coastline, in estuaries and in lagoons.

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

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Lineage information about this project or dataset
The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) aims to protect and enhance the quality of rivers, lakes, groundwater, estuaries and coastal waters. Member States (MS), such as Ireland, must aim to achieve good status in all waters by 2015 and ensure that status does not decline. As part of this commitment, MS must assess and classify the quality of transitional and coastal waters (as detailed in Article 8, Section 1.3 of Annex II and Section 1 of Annex V). One of the Biological Quality Elements (BQE) to be assessed is angiosperms. Whilst seagrasses (Zostera spp.) are the only true marine angiosperms, saltmarshes are also included within this BQE under the WFD. Hitherto, a suitable WFD status assessment tool for saltmarshes has not been fully applied in an Irish context. This requirement led to the establishment of this project.

The joint UK/Ireland Marine Plants Task Team, working under the UK Technical Advisory Group for the Water Framework Directive (WFD-UKTAG), had previously developed some initial ideas for a saltmarsh classification tool. Whilst, following substantial revisions, these have been published as a draft tool for the UK, the methodology was not adopted in Ireland. However, the UK tool and those of other MS were important starting points in developing the Irish saltmarsh tool. Engaging with the tools of other MS was a requirement as a key action identified by the WFD (Annex V) is the intercalibration procedure. This ensures that for each BQE in each water body type, good ecological status represents the same level of quality in each MS.

The project utilised releve data (quantitative vegetation cover data) from a range of previous projects and studies dating back to the 1940s. However, the main resource was the NPWS Saltmarsh Monitoring Project (2006-2008) which provided recent GIS data and releve data at a national level.
Supplementary Information
Releve data used in the classification were collated from numerous datasets held by the National Biodiversity Records Centre and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Vegetation analysis was conducted using the R statistical environment (version 2.15.2). We used fuzzy analysis to create a tiered classification, excluding transitional plots to increase distinctiveness of vegetation types. Silhouette analysis, partition analysis, non-metric multidimensional scaling ordination and a measure of beta-diversity provided cluster validation. Indicator species analysis of multiple sample groups and Ellenberg environmental proxy scores characterised clusters.

LiDaR data were used to model High Astronomical Tide. These data were obtained from the INFOMAR project and from the OPW. Use of the OPW data was conditional on acceptance of a disclaimer. Use was also made of OS six-inch historical maps used under licence from the EPA.

Software used for processing of GIS data included:
ArcGIS 9.3.1
VORF 2.0
GridInquest 7.0.0
GRASS tools plugin for QGIS 2.0.1
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