Status and Trends of Emergent Wetlands in the Northern Gulf of Mexico: 1950-2010

Science Center Objects

Throughout the past century, emergent wetlands have been declining across the Gulf of Mexico. Emergent wetland ecosystems provide a plethora of resources including plant and wildlife habitat, commercial and recreational economic activity, water quality, and natural barriers against storms.

Mobile Bay, Alabama study area: Emergent wetlands, 1956
Mobile Bay, Alabama study area: Emergent wetlands, 1956

The Science Issue and Relevance: Throughout the past century, emergent wetlands have been declining across the Gulf of Mexico. Emergent wetland ecosystems provide a plethora of resources including plant and wildlife habitat, commercial and recreational economic activity, water quality, and natural barriers against storms. As emergent wetland losses increase, so does the need for information on the causes and effects of this loss, emergent wetland mapping, monitoring and restoration efforts, and education.

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: The U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Program are committed to providing the best science possible to restore, enhance, and protect these important emergent wetland ecosystems. The purpose of this study is to provide scientists, managers, and citizens with valuable baseline information on the status and trends of emergent wetlands along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Researchers on this study are examining the emergent wetlands of eight individual estuarine areas within the northern Gulf of Mexico region, as well as present statewide summaries for Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Each study area will be detailed in vignettes that address current status and historical trends of estuarine and palustrine emergent wetlands, emergent wetlands mapping and monitoring, causes of status change, restoration and enhancement activities, background information for the study area, and the methodology employed to analyze and document the historical trends and current status of emergent wetlands.

The ecosystems include Corpus Christi/Nueces/Aransas Bays and Galveston Bay in Texas; Barataria/Terrebonne Bay and the Mississippi Delta in Louisiana; Mississippi Sound in Mississippi; Mobile Bay in Alabama; and the Florida Panhandle and Tampa Bay in Florida. An example of the emergent wetlands coverage changes that will be examined during this study is depicted in the figures to the right.

Future Steps: As the report is completed, it will be made available on the USGS and the Gulf of Mexico website: http://gom.usgs.gov.

 

Mobile Bay, Alabama study area: Emergent wetlands, 2001 - 2002
Mobile Bay, Alabama study area: Emergent wetlands, 2001 - 2002