Management realignment projects (or de-poldering projects) often aim at developing intertidal habitats in the newly created area. The development into non-vegetated intertidal habitat (i.e. mudflats) and eventually into vegetated intertidal habitat (i.e. salt marshes) depends on many factors related to the characteristics of the former polder and the conditions of the adjacent estuarine environment. Also biotic interactions (e.g. bioturbation) can play a role to which state the area will develop, vegetated or non-vegetated. Important environmental factors include:
Due to the relatively low-lying conditions of Perkpolder and its position in the transition zone between brackish and marine waters in the Western Scheldt, we expect that at first the area will develop into a non-vegetated intertidal zone, with low hydrodynamics and a relatively high sedimentation rate. If non-vegetated intertidal areas develop, the next question is how biodiversity will develop in these areas. Mudflats in estuaries like the Scheldt are rich in benthic life. Primary producers like diatoms can form thick algal mats in these areas, which is in turn an important food source for secondary producers like benthic macroinvertebrates. Benthic macroinvertebrates in the Scheldt estuary mainly involve polychaetes, molluscs and crustaceans. In turn, these macroinvertebrates are the key food source for many fish and bird species.
The data and the methods that have been used for the evaluation of the benthos and bird development are all described in the Perkpolder progress reports: