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Ecology, Conservation, and Restoration of Tidal Marshes: The San Francisco Estuary

Edited by Arnas Palaima
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Ecology, Conservation, and Restoration of Tidal Marshes
    Book Description:

    The San Francisco Bay, the biggest estuary on the west coast of North America, was once surrounded by an almost unbroken chain of tidal wetlands, a fecund sieve of ecosystems connecting the land and the Bay. Today, most of these wetlands have disappeared under the demands of coastal development, and those that remain cling precariously to a drastically altered coastline. This volume is a collaborative effort of nearly 40 scholars in which the wealth of scientific knowledge available on tidal wetlands of the San Francisco Estuary is summarized and integrated. This book addresses issues of taxonomy, geomorphology, toxicology, the impact of climate change, ecosystem services, public policy, and conservation, and it is an essential resource for ecologists, environmental scientists, coastal policymakers, and researchers interested in estuaries and conserving and restoring coastal wetlands around the world.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95401-4
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. San Francisco Estuary Tidal Marshes (Map)
    (pp. xii-xiii)
  5. Global Salt Marshes (Map)
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xviii)

    Wetlands occur where land meets water. Wetlands, therefore, are not evenly spread over the surface of the Earth. Some areas, such as the Amazon and Siberia, have enormous wetlands, each of these being more than one million square kilometers. Most wetlands along the ocean coasts are much smaller, being limited on one side by uplands and on the other by ocean water that is too deep for rooted plants. The water levels in wetlands along coasts are influenced by tides, hence the general nametidal marsh. Tidal marshes can be further divided into two types, the narrow fringing marshes along...

    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Diverse Perspectives on Tidal Marshes: AN INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-18)
    Joy B. Zedler

    Marine vegetated coasts make up less than 2% (90 million ha) of all ocean margins, and salt marshes comprise about 44% of that (~40 million ha), according to estimates by Duarte et al. (2005) (Map 2). Sea grasses and mangroves make up the rest, with the latter confined to frost-free regions. For the United States, current estimates of salt marsh area are for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts, based on recent sampling of aerial photos by the National Wetland Inventory (Dahl 2006). As of 2004, salt marshes made up 5% (~1.6 million ha) of the total wetland area...

  9. Part I Ecology:: Environment

    • CHAPTER TWO Historical Formation
      (pp. 21-34)
      Frances Malamud-Roam and Michelle F. Goman

      On the central coast of California, a series of bedrock basins and narrow structural constrictions (straits) have produced what we recognize today as the San Francisco Bay Estuary (Conomos et al. 1985; Goals Project 1999). Pacific Ocean water passes through the Golden Gate and enters the Central Bay of the Estuary; from here saline water flows upriver with the tides into San Pablo Bay, through the Carquinez Strait, into Suisun Bay, and finally into the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta. This water mixes with the combined freshwater of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers (Figure 2.1) that flow westward through the...

    • CHAPTER THREE Geomorphology, Hydrology, and Tidal Influences
      (pp. 35-52)
      Elizabeth Burke Watson

      As viewed from the air, tidal wetland landscapes are uniquely beautiful and compelling; the branching, sinuous, blind-ended channels suggest the power of nature and a unique interaction between hydrology and biology. In consequence, tidal marsh geomorphology is similarly dualistic; strong feedbacks exist between biological and physical processes (Torres et al. 2006). In accordance with this duality, the goal of this chapter is to briefly review the main physical forcing factors shaping the landforms of San Francisco Estuary tidal marshes and to discuss the origin and structure of the main tidal marsh landscape elements, from both ecological and geomorphological perspectives. The...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Pollution: Persistent Organic Contaminants and Trace Metals
      (pp. 53-66)
      Hyun-Min Hwang, Peter G. Green and Thomas M. Young

      Growth of human population and industrialization in coastal areas have resulted in increased input of contaminants that degrade the quality of the adjacent bays and estuaries. San Francisco Bay has experienced significant contamination due to population growth combined with mining and industrial activities over the last 150 years. Population in the Bay Area increased from 0.1 million in 1860 to 2.7 million in 1950 and to 6.8 million in 2000 (Bay Area Census 2000). Since the mid-1800s, San Francisco Bay has received enormous amounts of contaminants such as mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and organochlorine (OC) pesticides from historic gold and...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Pollution: Emerging Contaminants
      (pp. 67-86)
      Carol A. Vines and Gary N. Cherr

      Estuaries and bays are critical habitats for many resident and migratory species, but they are also areas that are attractive to humans because of their generally moderate climates, food availability, recreational opportunities, and access to goods and services through commerce and shipping. In the United States, it is estimated that >50% of all humans live within 100 km of the coastline (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2004), and with an ever-growing population, there is increasing potential for further disruption and degradation of coastal and estuarine environments. This chapter focuses on a “new” category of stressor, emerging contaminants (ECs) or contaminants...

    • CHAPTER SIX Tidal Marshes in the Context of Climate Change
      (pp. 87-94)
      V. Thomas Parker, John C. Callaway, Lisa M. Schile, Michael C. Vasey and Ellen R. Herbert

      Climate change and sea level rise (SLR) have created the history of tidal wetlands since the last glacial maximum over 21,000 years before the present (Malamud-Roam et al. 2006; Chapter 2, this volume). In the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary, the result was variable but rapid SLR that lasted until about 6,000–5,000 years before present, at which time vegetation and accretion processes could keep up with the reduced rate of SLR (Atwater et al. 1979; Malamud-Roam et al. 2006). Climatic variations during the last 8,000–10,000 years have resulted in distributional shifts back and forth in what we consider salt,...

  10. Part II Ecology:: Organisms

      (pp. 97-112)
      V. Thomas Parker, John C. Callaway, Lisa M. Schile, Michael C. Vasey and Ellen R. Herbert

      Tidal wetlands occupy the transitional zone between intertidal mudflats and uplands. They are dynamic systems, maintaining relative elevation with sea level rise through inputs of mineral sediment and organic matter accumulation (Day et al. 1989; Reed 1990, 2002; Kirwan and Temmerman 2009). Tidal marshes are ecologically significant; they provide habitat for resident and migratory birds and mammals, estuarine fish, and numerous invertebrates (Madon et al. 2001; Mitsch and Gosselink 2007; Keddy 2010). They often support a large number of highly specialized and endemic species, including a number of endangered species (Chapman 1974; Greenberg et al. 2006; Keddy 2010). Tidal wetlands...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Tidal Wetland Vegetation and Ecotone Profiles: THE RUSH RANCH OPEN SPACE PRESERVE
      (pp. 113-134)
      Christine R. Whitcraft, Brenda J. Grewell and Peter Baye

      The Rush Ranch Open Space Preserve (Rush Ranch) is located at the northwestern edge of the Potrero Hills and includes the largest remaining undiked tidal wetland within the Suisun Marsh region of the San Francisco Estuary. The brackish tidal wetlands grade into transitional vegetation and undeveloped grasslands of the Potrero Hills, and we describe diverse vegetation that reflects the estuarine position, land use history, and hydrogeomorphic complexity of the site.

      A useful framework for future study of vegetation at this San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve site is presented. Rush Ranch includes four major estuarine geomorphic units that are...

      (pp. 135-146)
      Elizabeth D. Brusati

      Estuarine invertebrates represent a wide taxonomic range, from crabs and snails crawling across mudflats, to tiny clams and annelid worms buried within the sediment. They must survive physical stresses such as tidal fluctuations, variations in salinity, and lack of oxygen within waterlogged sediment (Pennings and Bertness 2001). They must also contend with predation by the more conspicuous marsh inhabitants, such as shorebirds and fish. However, these species provide important functions by altering sediment structure, affecting small-scale hydrology, cycling nutrients, and providing food for higher trophic consumers (Mitsch and Gosselink 1993).

      Salt marshes around the world face humancaused stresses as well,...

      (pp. 147-160)
      April Robinson, Andrew N. Cohen, Brie Lindsey and Letitia Grenier

      Intertidal habitats present a harsh physical environment for resident invertebrates. Twice-daily tides subject terrestrial invertebrates to the risk of drowning and aquatic invertebrates to the risk of desiccation. Inundation periods and sediment properties vary across the intertidal gradient, and environmental conditions change rapidly with inundation and exposure. Physical and biological conditions change over small spatial scales, as slight changes in elevation translate to large changes in hydrology, geomorphology, and vegetation (Collins et al. 1986; Pennings and Callaway 1992).

      The distribution of rocky intertidal invertebrates varies over both large and small spatial scales as a result of differences in dispersal, recruitment,...

      (pp. 161-174)
      Peter B. Moyle, James Hobbs and Teejay O’Rear

      The tidal marshes of the San Francisco Estuary fall into three broad overlapping categories: the freshwater marshes of the Delta, the brackish-water marshes of Suisun Bay, and the salt marshes of San Francisco Bay. The tidal marshes of today represent sections of a broken continuum of marshlands that once extended from the Delta to South San Francisco Bay. The original biota of these marshes was strongly influenced by variable, highly seasonal freshwater inflow. It is likely that these marshes were centers of fish production, especially for juvenile anadromous fishes such as Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), as such marshes are elsewhere...

      (pp. 175-194)
      John Y. Takekawa, Isa Woo, Karen M. Thorne, Kevin J. Buffington, Nadav Nur, Michael L. Casazza and Joshua T. Ackerman

      The San Francisco Bay Estuary supports a large and diverse bird community. More than 50% of most Pacific flyway diving duck populations are found in the Estuary during the winter months (Trost 2002; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2002). San Francisco Bay has been designated as a site of international importance for shorebirds (Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network), supporting millions of individuals (Morrison et al. 2001; Takekawa et al. 2001; Warnock et al. 2002), including species that use tidal marsh habitats. In total, the Bay’s tidal marshes support at least 113 bird species that represent 31 families (Takekawa et al.,...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Small Mammals
      (pp. 195-204)
      Howard Shellhammer

      This chapter will concentrate on the small rodents and shrews that live in the marshes of the San Francisco Bay. Some mention will be made of the larger mammals, both native and introduced, that may prey upon these often scarce mice and shrews, but the latter species will be the emphasis of this chapter.

      There are relatively few species of small mammals found in tidal salt marshes of the San Francisco Bay region, but they occur in many of the marshes of the region. They include the often uncommon salt marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris) and the common California meadow...

  11. Part III Conservation and Restoration

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN Ecosystem Services
      (pp. 207-214)
      Arnas Palaima

      Ecosystems generate a range of goods and services important for human well-being, collectively called ecosystem services. Ecosystem services provide economic benefits to society, although humans are not always aware of these benefits. Over the past decade, progress has been made in understanding how ecosystems provide services and how service provision translates into economic value (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005; National Research Council 2005; Daily et al. 2009; Tallis et al. 2009). The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA), generally regarded as standard guidance on this issue, is a comprehensive report on the status of ecosystems worldwide that was commissioned by United Nations Secretary-General...

      (pp. 215-224)
      Marc Holmes

      Today we look out upon a San Francisco Estuary that bears only passing resemblance to that which existed before the arrival of Europeans. In a pioneering article published in Science in 1986, Nichols et al. describe the alterations to San Francisco Bay that have occurred since the California Gold Rush of 1849. They classified the alterations into four categories—diking and filling, pollution, introduction of exotic species, and reduction of fresh water inflow. More than 90% of the Estuary’s tidal wetlands have been diked or filled; contamination of the Estuary by a variety of pollutants is pervasive; the San Francisco...

    • CHAPTER SIXTEEN Research Reserves as a Model for Conservation Science and Management of Tidal Marshes
      (pp. 225-232)
      Matthew C. Ferner

      Research reserves are protected natural areas where scientists conduct environmental and ecological research and monitoring, often with the goal of improving conservation, management, and scientific literacy. These protected areas range in size from small private parks to massive parcels of government-owned wilderness and in many cases are synonymous with the subset of forest reserves, game reserves, marine reserves, and wildlife refuges that function as focused research sites. In the United States, the value of “research reserves” has been acknowledged and promoted since the early twentieth century (e.g., National Park Service 1929; Forbes 1930) and continues today through a variety of...

    • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Natural and Restored Tidal Marsh Communities
      (pp. 233-252)
      Katharyn E. Boyer and Whitney J. Thornton

      Ecological restoration, the process of assisting recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed (Society for Ecological Restoration 2002), can encompass a variety of activities in tidal marsh settings, including engineering the hydrology, grading to achieve appropriate elevations, and establishing desired plant and animal species. In San Francisco Estuary, most tidal marsh restoration efforts have focused on reestablishment of hydrological function to lands formerly diked for solar salt production or agriculture (Philip Williams and Associates and Faber 2004). Breaching these levees is the obvious first step in restoring tidal marsh function, as tidal flows are necessary to...

    • CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Current Issues in Tidal Marsh Restoration
      (pp. 253-262)
      John C. Callaway and V. Thomas Parker

      While the restoration of tidal marshes enhances existing ecosystem processes, what happens when those processes are almost entirely missing from a region? The San Francisco Bay-Delta region has lost almost all the tidal marshes that were present only 200 years previous, such that only 5%–10% of the original tidal marshes remain (Goals Project 1999; van Geen and Luoma 1999). Tidal marshes are highly productive systems (Chapter 7, this volume) and provide considerable support to local tidal marsh food webs. Because tidal systems are physically linked to pelagic systems, tidal marshes also can provide substantial inputs to the estuarine and...

  12. INDEX
    (pp. 263-266)