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Suisun Marsh

Ecological History and Possible Futures

Peter B. Moyle

Publication Year: 2014

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 Marsh has been influenced by humans for its entire 6000-year history and human actions will have significant impacts as 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.

Published by: University of California Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Suisun Marsh is one of the most remarkable natural areas in California. It is the largest tidal wetland in the state and perhaps on the Pacific coast. It not only serves as a refuge for a high diversity of native plants and animals, but is a major area of “open space” in an increasingly urban region. Yet Suisun Marsh may also...

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pp. xi-xii

We thank our many colleagues who have roamed the Marsh with us and shared their knowledge of its flora, fauna, and ecology. The many enthusiastic and skeptical participants in the 2011 Suisun Marsh symposium collectively encouraged us to write this book. The symposium was sponsored by the Delta Science...

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1. Introduction

Peter B. Moyle, Amber D. Manfree, and Peggy L. Fiedler

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pp. 1-8

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...

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2. Historical Ecology

Amber D. Manfree

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pp. 9-44

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...

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3. Physical Processes and Geomorphic Features

Christopher Enright

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pp. 45-64

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...

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4. Shifting Mosaics: Vegetation of Suisun Marsh

Brenda J. Grewell, Peter R. Baye, and Peggy L. Fiedler

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pp. 65-102

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...

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5. Waterfowl Ecology and Management

Joshua T. Ackerman, Mark P. Herzog, Gregory S. Yarris, Michael L. Casazza, Edward Burns, and John M. Eadie

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pp. 103-132

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...

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6. Terrestrial Vertebrates

Alison N. Weber-Stover and Peter B. Moyle

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pp. 133-164

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...

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7. Fishes and Aquatic Macroinvertebrates

Teejay A. O’Rear and Peter B. Moyle

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pp. 165-184

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...

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8. Suisun Marsh Today: Agents of Change

Stuart W. Siegel

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pp. 185-208

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...

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9. Alternative Futures for Suisun Marsh

Peter B. Moyle, Amber D. Manfree, Peggy L. Fiedler, and Teejay A. O’Rear

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pp. 209-230

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...


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pp. 231-239


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E-ISBN-13: 9780520957329
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520276086

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 874755201
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Suisun Marsh

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Salinity -- California -- Suisun Marsh.
  • Marsh ecology -- California -- Suisun Marsh.
  • Suisun Marsh (Calif.) -- History.
  • Brackish water ecology -- California -- Suisun Marsh.
  • Water quality -- California -- Suisun Marsh.
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