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Wetlands provide goods and services that have been valued at up to $78,500 per acre per year (R. Costanza and others, Global  Environmental Change 2014). In addition to providing fish and wildlife habitat, coastal ecosystems protect coastlines from storms, store carbon in sediments, improve water quality, and maintain productive coastal fisheries. In the 21st century, drivers such as sea level rise, extreme weather events, changes in the flow rate of rivers, and human development of coastal habitats will affect coastal landscapes and ecosystems across the region.

More information about Status and Trends program wetlands research is available from  the "Related Science" tab on the top navigation or from the links below.


Migratory birds in a wetland.
(Credit: Joan Daniels, USGS. Public domain.)

Assessing Wetland Quality in the Great Lakes and Other Regions in the U.S.

Science Center: Great Lakes Science Center

USGS scientists are assessing the condition of wetlands on a regional scale (e.g., Huron-Erie corridor, Ohio, Great Lakes basin, multiple state regions), particularly with respect to invasive species, vegetation integrity, and soil chemistry; identifying region-scale factors associated with wetland vegetation integrity and wetlands quality; and integrating with the National Wetland condition and Analysis (NWCA) survey to develop new tools for assessing wetland quality.

WARC employee takes sample in wetlands
WARC employee takes sample in wetlands(Public domain.)

► Find out more about Great Lakes wetlands


Ecology of Tidal Freshwater Forested Wetlands of the Southeastern United States

Science Center: Wetland and Aquatic Research Center

Tidal Freshwater Forested Wetlands (TFFW) are susceptible to sea-level rise and are constantly transitioning to different wetland community types over time scales of centuries to millennia. This project addresses how carbon, water, and biogeochemical processes are affected in TFFWs as they transition from a forested wetland state to an emergent, low-salinity marsh.

► Find out more about TFFW's 


Nutria in Louisiana wetlands
Nutria in Louisiana wetlands(Public domain.)

Surface Elevation Vulnerability of Coastal Forested Wetlands to Sea-Level Rise

Science Center: Wetland and Aquatic Research Center

Wetlands vary in their abilities to keep up with sea-level rise; they either adjust vertically and/or move inland. USGS is working with partners around the world to measure rates of surface elevation change relative to local sea-level rise. 

► Find out more about wetlands and sea-level rise


Measuring wetland elevation
USGS scientist measuring wetland elevation at a tidal marsh, Pacific coast.(Credit: David Nelson, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)

Restoration of Climate Change-Induced Retreat of Tidally Influenced Freshwater Forested Wetlands

Science Center: Wetland and Aquatic Research Center

Wetlands in river deltas - like the Mississippi River Delta Plain - may be more vulnerable to sea-level rise. Historically, coastal wetlands responded to these changes by increasing surface elevation or migrating up-slope. USGS conducts research to identify the biogeochemical influences on sediment addition in coastal wetland areas. 

► Find out more about wetlands restoration


Incorporating Future Change into Current Conservation Planning: Evaluating Wetland Migration along the Gulf of Mexico under Alternative Sea-Level Rise and Urbanization Scenarios

Science Center: Wetland and Aquatic Research Center

More than half of contiguous U.S. coastal wetlands are located along the Gulf of Mexico coast. Historically, coastal wetlands have adapted to sea-level changes via lateral and vertical movement on the landscape. As sea levels rise in the future, coastal wetlands will adapt and migrate landward into undeveloped low-lying areas where migration corridors exist. 

Field work photo
(Credit: Brian Tangen, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. Public domain.)

► Find out more about planning for sea level rise and wetlands


Wetland Ecosystems

Science Center: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

Small wetlands across the prairie pothole region provide essential breeding habitat for mid-continental waterfowl populations in addition to supporting many other wildlife species and performing services (e.g., carbon sequestration, flood-water storage, water quality improvement). The wetlands research conducted at NPWRC necessarily reflects the diversity and importance of these valued aquatic systems. 

► Find out more about prairie pothole wetlands


Wetland Restoration in the San Francisco Bay Delta and Pacific Northwest

Science Center: Western Ecological Research Center

Along the U.S. Pacific Coast, both the San Francisco Bay estuary and the Pacific Northwest are critical estuarine ecosystems that support a diverse array of wildlife and are inextricably linked to human health and well-being. WERC’s Dr. Susan De La Cruz and her team study wetland enhancements and restorations, develop innovative methods to examine restoration processes, and assess restoration benefits for wildlife.

► Find out more about west coast wetlands


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