Suisun Marsh

Suisun Marsh: Ecological History and Possible Futures

Peter B. Moyle
Amber D. Manfree
Peggy L. Fiedler
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 252
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt5vjz9n
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  • Book Info
    Suisun Marsh
    Book Description:

    One of California's most remarkable wetlands, Suisun Marsh is the largest tidal marsh on the West Coast and a major feature of the San Francisco Estuary. This productive and unique habitat supports endemic species, is a nursery for native fishes, and is a vital link for migratory waterfowl. The 6,000-year-old marsh has been affected by human activity, and humans will continue to have significant impacts on the marsh as the sea level rises and cultural values shift in the century ahead.This study includes in-depth information about the ecological and human history of Suisun Marsh, its abiotic and biotic characteristics, agents of ecological change, and alternative futures facing this ecosystem.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95732-9
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-x)
    Peter B. Moyle, Amber D. Manfree and Peggy L. Fiedler
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)
    Peter B. Moyle, Amber D. Manfree and Peggy L. Fiedler

    Suisun Marsh has always been regarded as a remarkable place, made especially attractive by its abundance of fish, wildlife, and useful plants. The remarkable nature of Suisun Marsh stems from the coincidence of a number of factors.

    Size. At about 470 km², the Marsh is often referred to as the largest brackish-water marsh on the western coast of North America (see box 1.1). While this claim is debatable, Suisun Marsh is certainly the largest such marsh in California.

    Connectivity. Located in the middle of the San Francisco Estuary (see maps 1 and 2 in color insert), the Marsh is tightly...

  7. 2 Historical Ecology
    (pp. 9-44)
    Amber D. Manfree

    Suisun Marsh is a place of constant and relatively rapid change, with vital connections to regional ecological processes. it is not a place of stasis or isolation. One of the first things to become apparent when looking at historical maps is how natural forces such as faulting, winds, tides, and river flows have sculpted the landscape. Telltale signs of geomorphic processes are now largely obscured by human modifications; nevertheless, by comparing maps made at different times, one can see drivers of change in the patterns that emerge. Novelties and subtleties of landscape ecology are often found in historical accounts, and...

  8. 3 Physical Processes and Geomorphic Features
    (pp. 45-64)
    Christopher Enright

    Suisun Marsh is an uncommon place. Geologically, the Marsh is a very young landscape that occupies a widening of the Holocene river valley that drained the Central valley between 10,000 and 3,000 years ago when sea level was about 2 m lower than today. Sea level rose rapidly up to around 6,000 years ago when tidal influence extended into the Delta and Suisun Marsh roughly to where it does today. Over the past 6,000 years sea level rise slowed to about 1–2 mm/yr, allowing sedimentation and erosion processes to form branching sinuous channels by the action of tidal currents...

  9. 4 Shifting Mosaics: Vegetation of Suisun Marsh
    (pp. 65-102)
    Brenda J. Grewell, Peter R. Baye and Peggy L. Fiedler

    To those who have experienced Suisun Marsh, mere mention of this vast wetland conjures images of saltgrass–pickleweed plains and robust sedges that sway to the Suisun winds and tides along a complex labyrinth of tidal sloughs and shorelines. Upon closer look, the richness and diversity of the tidal flora and the marsh-dependent life it supports are revealed. Shifting mosaics of vegetation are a defining feature of Suisun wetlands. Seasonal changes of the plant communities are highly anticipated, but less obvious are changes to vegetation structure and composition that have varied over millennia and will continue to vary with time....

  10. 5 Waterfowl Ecology and Management
    (pp. 103-132)
    Joshua T. Ackerman, Mark P. Herzog, Gregory S. Yarris, Michael L. Casazza, Edward Burns and John M. Eadie

    Suisun Marsh has long been a favored place for waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans). Before the first duck clubs were established in 1879, market hunters had used the Marsh for at least 20 years, and they continued to hunt it until market hunting was outlawed in 1918 with the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Suisun Marsh’s proximity to San Francisco allowed market hunters to get their vast harvest to market relatively quickly by boat. During a single hunting season in 1911–12, an estimated 250,000 ducks were sold in San Francisco markets from all sources, and 350,000 ducks...

  11. 6 Terrestrial Vertebrates
    (pp. 133-164)
    Alison N. Weber-Stover and Peter B. Moyle

    Tidal wetlands comprise roughly 45,000 km² globally and are present in isolated pockets or relatively narrow bands along coastlines, including that of the San Francisco Estuary (Greenberg et al. 2006b). They constitute a very distinctive biotic arena because of low overall plant diversity, wide variations in salinity, daily tidal inundation, and seasonal flooding by fresh water. in this setting, the terrestrial vertebrate fauna is relatively simple compared with that of the adjacent upland habitats. Many species that occur in tidal marshes are narrowly restricted endemic taxa, often with distinctive morphology, physiology, demographics, and behavior (Greenberg et al. 2006b). Consequently, tidal...

  12. Color maps
    (pp. None)
  13. 7 Fishes and Aquatic Macroinvertebrates
    (pp. 165-184)
    Teejay A. O’Rear and Peter B. Moyle

    Suisun Marsh contains some of the most important habitats for fishes and macroinvertebrates in the San Francisco Estuary (Moyle et al. 2012). More than 50 species of fish have been collected from the Marsh, 27 of which occur frequently enough to be part of at least seasonal fish assemblages, along with eight species of shrimp, clams, and other macroinvertebrates (scientific names of all fishes and macroinvertebrates mentioned in the text are provided in chapter appendix 7.1). This is partly due to its intermediate location in the Estuary where salinity, temperature, and water clarity are often within the optimum ranges of...

  14. 8 Suisun Marsh Today: Agents of Change
    (pp. 185-208)
    Stuart W. Siegel

    Suisun Marsh has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. The principal subject of this book—the future of Suisun Marsh—is about looking forward with the intention of directing that change toward a positive outcome in the future. The problem, of course, is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so one person’s positive outcomes can be another person’s bad dreams. Therefore, debate and dialogue among those who care about the Marsh are vital to looking forward with intention. Decisions about the future of the Marsh must be well informed if they are to have positive...

  15. 9 Alternative Futures for Suisun Marsh
    (pp. 209-230)
    Peter B. Moyle, Amber D. Manfree, Peggy L. Fiedler and Teejay A. O’Rear

    Projected changes in climate over the next 100+ years will have major impacts on California, especially on the San Francisco Estuary. These changes are already underway and are expected to accelerate (Lund et al. 2007; Moyle et al. 2012). Impacts on the Estuary will include inundation by rising sea level of many acres of mud flats and low-lying marsh, increasingly frequent failures of levees and dikes that protect natural and developed areas, and greater variation in environmental conditions as a result of larger floods and longer droughts. These changes will occur on a backdrop of growing human populations, with increased...

  16. INDEX
    (pp. 231-240)