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Coastal Marshes

Coastal Marshes: Ecology and Wildlife Management

Volume: 2
Copyright Date: 1988
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    Coastal Marshes
    Book Description:

    This book describes coastal marshes in terms of form, function, ecology, wildlife value, and management. Chabreck’s emphasis is on the marshes of the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico but he also examines marshes on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Plant and animal communities are each given a chapter, and the book concludes with considerations of future uses and needs of coastal marshes. “Salt, brackish, intermediate, and freshwater marshes are discussed in chapters on nutrient cycling, food web and biodiversity, plant and animal communities, economic value and recreational use, and managerial techniques. . . illuminating and attractive.” --Naturalist Review

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8279-9
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. v-vi)
    Milton W. Weller

    The understanding of wildlife in relation to its habitat, and the management of these habitats in the interest of hunters, bird watchers and other observers of nature, has evolved slowly from trial-and-error manipulations of poorly understood plant communities to a more sophisticated application of scientific approaches and theories to complex ecosystems. Yet, these methods cannot operate without societal understanding, as many of the decisions on wildlife management have an effect on land-management approaches and hence on diverse resource users. Of still greater importance to wildlife is the fact that land management for various other human activities affects wildlife directly or...

  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Robert H. Chabreck
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Distribution of Coastal Marshes
    (pp. 3-7)

    Topography and other physical features of a region influence the amount of marshland along the coastline. Regions bordered by a broad, flat coastal plain and a gently sloping continental shelf offshore contain the greatest expanse of coastal marshes. Marshes form along the shoreline when sediment deposited by rivers or the sea fill the shallow waters, then extend seaward as shoals that accrete from the water bottom to elevations suitable for plant growth (Coleman 1966). Coastlines bordered by mountainous terraine usually contain deep water near shore and produce conditions unfavorable for marsh development (Seliskar and Galliger 1983). In such regions the...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Environmental Influences
    (pp. 8-20)

    During the Ice Ages, the level of the world’s oceans fluctuated drastically with each advance and retreat of giant, polar ice caps. When ice caps were at their greatest size, they included a large amount of the earth’s water. This meant less water in the oceans, and sea levels were several hundred feet below present levels. As the ice caps melted, water was returned to the oceans and sea levels slowly increased. The meltwater rushed across the continental land mass to reach the sea and greatly changed the land surface; erosion was severe and fast-flowing rivers cut deep trenches into...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Ecological Processes
    (pp. 21-27)

    Green plants areautotrophic,producing their own food through the process ofphotosynthesis.With energy from sunlight, these plants are able to transform carbon dioxide, water, and certain minerals into complex compounds such as sugars, amino acids, and organic acids. The food thus produced provides energy for growth and reproduction. The amount of organic matter produced by green plants during a specific time interval is termedprimary production.

    Researchers using clipped-plot techniques have measured primary production and “standing crop” of individual plant species in most coastal regions (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1977). The studies have demonstrated the highly productive...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Plant Communities
    (pp. 28-39)

    The plant species growing in a particular coastal marsh are regulated by prevailing environmental conditions in the area and the availability ofpropagules,such as seeds or roots, of individual species. Major factors affecting growth of plants in coastal marshes are water or soil salinity (Fig. 10) and water depth. Species vary in their tolerance to salt: halophytes are able to grow in marshes where the water salinity approaches sea strength; at the other extreme areglycophytes,which require a freshwater environment. Other species have moderate tolerances and grow in marsh where salinity levels are intermediate.

    Because seawater is the...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Animal Communities
    (pp. 40-57)

    Coastal marshes, their associated water bodies, and adjacent beaches and sandbars contain diverse animal life. The abundance of individual species varies regionally and is influenced by prevailing environmental conditions such as salinity regimes, water depth and tidal fluctuation, and vegetational communities. These conditions may greatly differ within a given locality and produce quite different animal communities (Fig. 12). Natural and human-induced changes often produce drastic changes in coastal marshes and the species composition of animal communities using them.

    The vastness and diversity of marshes and estuaries of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are matched by the variety and numbers of...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Marsh Values and Uses
    (pp. 58-66)

    The band of coastal marshes bordering the seashore is a dynamic and complex ecosystem. It contains a wide variety of plant and animal life and functions to serve humans in a number of ways. In many rural areas, the resources produced by coastal marshes and adjacent estuaries provide a means of livelihood for local inhabitants. Trappers, hunters, and fishermen were the earliest explorers and settlers of this country and the first to recognize the value of the marshes for fish and wildlife. Farmers also made early use of marshes for livestock grazing and hay production. These activities have continued until...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Alteration and Loss of Marshes
    (pp. 67-78)

    The physical and biological processes that create coastal marshes operate very slowly and centuries often are required for a shallow embayment to be filled with sediment and colonized with emergent plants. Studies at Barnstable Marsh in Massachusetts traced the developmental process of the marsh and disclosed that over 3,000 years were required for it to reach its present size (Redfield 1967). Deltaic marshes formed from sediment deposited by the Mississippi River began their development almost 5,000 years ago (Kolb and Van Lopik 1958).

    The processes that cause alteration or loss of some marshes may occur much more rapidly. During a...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Marsh Management
    (pp. 79-100)

    The density of wildlife species occupying coastal marshes is largely regulated by the quality and quantity of available habitat. Individual species have specific habitat requirements and greatest populations occur when conditions are within the optimal range. However, the rapid loss and alteration of coastal marshes have reduced the quantity of habitat and caused habitat quality to deteriorate and wildlife populations to decline in most areas. As more demands are placed on coastal marshes in the future, the implementation of special management practices will become essential if the remaining wetland habitat is to be maintained at a level of high wildlife...

  14. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  15. CHAPTER 9 The Future of Coastal Marshes
    (pp. 101-108)

    Marshland along the nation’s coasts is being lost at an alarming rate. Most of the loss involves conversion of marsh to open water, but in many instances, marshes have been diked and drained or covered with spoil to form dry land. Such losses have a great impact on wildlife that require a wetland environment for survival.

    Human activities play a major role in marsh destruction. Ditching, canal dredging and spoil disposal were prominent activities for many years and have affected most coastal regions. The immediate loss of marshes to canal dredging was only a part of the problem. After construction,...

  16. APPENDIX A. Scientific Names of Animals and Plants
    (pp. 109-111)
  17. APPENDIX B. Glossary
    (pp. 112-116)
  18. APPENDIX C. Conversion Table
    (pp. 117-118)
  19. References
    (pp. 121-130)
  20. Index
    (pp. 133-138)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 139-139)