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Ecology, Conservation, and Restoration of Tidal Marshes

The San Francisco Estuary

Arnas Palaima

Publication Year: 2012

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.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

Contributors

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pp. xi-xiii

San Francisco Estuary Tidal Marshes (Map)

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pp. xiv-xv

Global Salt Marshes (Map)

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p. xvi-xvi

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Foreword: Some Thoughts on San Francisco Bay and Its Wetlands

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pp. xvii-xx

...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...

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xxi-xxii

...numbers from Global Footprint Network (www .footprintnetwork.org), revealed that humanity's Ecological Footprint has more than doubled since 1966. In 2008, the most recent year for which data are available, humanity used the equivalent of 1.5 planets to support its activities. Tidal marshes represent just one example of an ecosystem whose historical and present states accurately reflect the above-mentioned trend. Despite being instrumental, in providing ecosystem services to human society (in addition to their...

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1 • DIVERSE PERSPECTIVES ON TIDAL MARSHES: AN INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-18

...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...

Part I • Ecology: Environment

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2 • HISTORICAL FORMATION

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pp. 21-34

...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...

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3 • GEOMORPHOLOGY, HYDROLOGY, AND TIDAL INFLUENCES

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pp. 35-52

...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...

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4 • POLLUTION: PERSISTENT ORGANIC CONTAMINANTS AND TRACE METALS

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pp. 53-66

...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...

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5 • POLLUTION: EMERGING CONTAMINANTS

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pp. 67-86

...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...

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6 • TIDAL MARSHES IN THE CONTEXT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

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pp. 87-94

...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...

Part II • Ecology: Organisms

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7 • TIDAL VEGETATION: SPATIAL AND TEMPORAL DYNAMICS

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pp. 97-112

...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...

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8 • TIDAL WETLAND VEGETATION AND ECOTONE PROFILES: THE RUSH RANCH OPEN SPACE PRESERVE

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pp. 113-134

...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...

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9 • INVERTEBRATES: PAST AND CURRENT INVASIONS

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pp. 135-146

...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...

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10 • INVERTEBRATES: A CASE STUDY OF CHINA CAMP STATE PARK, MARIN COUNTY

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pp. 147-160

...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...

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11 • FISHES

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pp. 161-174

...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...

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12 • BIRD COMMUNITIES: EFFECTS OF FRAGMENTATION, DISTURBANCE, AND SEA LEVEL RISE ON POPULATION VIABILITY

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pp. 175-194

...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...

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13 • SMALL MAMMALS

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pp. 195-204

...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...

Part III • Conservation and Restoration

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14 • ECOSYSTEM SERVICES

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pp. 207-214

...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...

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15 • POLICY: ACHIEVEMENTS AND CHALLENGES

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pp. 215-224

...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...

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16 • RESEARCH RESERVES AS A MODEL FOR CONSERVATION SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT OF TIDAL MARSHES

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pp. 225-232

...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...

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17 • NATURAL AND RESTORED TIDAL MARSH COMMUNITIES

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pp. 233-252

...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...

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18 • CURRENT ISSUES IN TIDAL MARSHRESTORATION

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pp. 253-262

...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...

Index

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pp. 263-266


E-ISBN-13: 9780520954014
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520274297

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2012

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Subject Headings

  • Wetlands -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Estuaries -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Ecology -- California -- San Francisco Bay Area.
  • San Francisco Bay Watershed (Calif.).
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