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Tidal Wetlands Primer

An Introduction to Their Ecology, Natural History, Status, and Conservation

Ralph W. Tiner

Publication Year: 2013

At a time when more than half of the U.S. population lives within fifty miles of the coast, tidal wetlands are a critical and threatened natural resource. The purpose of this book is to introduce the world of tidal wetlands to students and professionals in the environmental fields and others with an interest in the subject. Illustrated with maps, photographs, and diagrams, this volume provides a clear account of the factors that make these habitats unique and vulnerable. It discusses their formation, the conditions affecting their plant and animal life, and the diversity of types across North America, as well as their history, use by wildlife and humans, current status, conservation, restoration, and likely future. The emphasis is on vegetated wetlands—marshes and swamps—with additional discussion of eelgrass meadows, rocky shores, beaches, and tidal flats. Ralph Tiner’s previous field guides to coastal wetland plants in the Northeast and Southeast have been widely praised. Tidal Wetlands Primer joins Tiner’s earlier publications as an authoritative and user-friendly guide that should appeal to anyone with a serious interest in coastal habitats.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 3-10


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pp. ix-xi

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pp. xiii-16

Why do we care about tidal wetlands? What is the future of salt marshes? How many kinds of tidal wetlands are there? Ralph Tiner introduces us to their ecology and leads us through a fascinating history, including a time when most people thought...

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pp. xv-xvii

Today tidal wetlands are widely recognized as among the world’s most valuable natural resources. This has not always been the case as many such wetlands have been filled for development of various kinds and degraded by pollution, hydrologic modification, and other human actions...

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pp. xix-xx

Several people stimulated my interest in tidal wetlands and gave me opportunities to develop my skills as a wetland ecologist over the years. For their support, I’d like to thank John Rankin and Michael Lefor...

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Purpose and Organization of the Book

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pp. xxi-xxiii

The significance of tidal wetlands as coastal landscapes, their vital contribution to estuarine productivity, and their utilization by fish and wildlife of recreational and commercial importance were largely responsible for generating interest in their conservation...

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1. Definitions and Classification of Tidal Wetlands and Estuaries

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pp. 1-22

Figure 1.1. Aerial view of tidal wetlands: (a) along the New Jersey coast showing tidal wetlands formed behind barrier islands and along the Mullica River and ( b) tidal wetlands in a Connecticut embayment off Long Island Sound. (a: Copyright Geospatial Division, MDA Information Systems Inc., Gaithersburg, MD)Figure 1.2. Marshes dominated by herbaceous species are the most common type in North America, while tidal flats predominate in regions with extremely high tidal ranges: (a) Nova Scotia salt marsh and ...

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2. Origin and Formation of Tidal Wetlands

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pp. 23-45

Figure 2.1. Aerial view of tidal wetlands behind some of Georgia?s barrier islands and along the Altamaha River. (Copyright Geospatial Division, MDA Information Systems Inc., Gaithersburg, MD)Figure 2.3. As the ice sheet melted and sea level rose quickly, some areas depressed by the weight of the ice were flooded until their surfaces rebounded. The wavy gray regions along the coast from Prince Edward Island to Massachusetts represent former marine bottoms. (Modified from Belknap and Shipp 1991; ...

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3. The Dynamic Intertidal Environment

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pp. 46-76

Figure 3.1. Elements of the water budget of a New England salt marsh. (Adapted from Nuttle 1988)Figure 3.2. Three types of daily tides: (a) semidiurnal; (b) diurnal; and (c) mixed. Figure 3.3. Changes in tides over a lunar month: (a) semidiurnal tide (Cape May, New Jersey); (b) diurnal (Shell Beach, LA); and (c) mixed tides (Neah Bay, WA). (Prepared from NOAA data)Figure 3.4. The gravitational pull of the moon and sun on the Earth affect tidal range and in some places ...

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4. Plant Response to the Tidal Environment

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pp. 77-122

Figure 4.1. Species occurrence along an elevation gradient in a Long Island salt marsh relative to mean low water. Mean tide level ( MTL) is 3.73 feet (1.14 m), while the mean tide range for this area is 7.01 feet (2.14 m) and the spring tide range is 7.60 feet (2.12 m). ( Data from Bartoldus 1984)Figure 4.2. Variations in the elevational range of smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) in North America. MTR = mean tide range; HTL = half tide level (the midpoint between mean high water and mean ...

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5. Tidal Wetland Types and their Vegetation

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pp. 123-173

Figure 5.1. Aerial view of wetlands along Connecticut?s Long Island Sound shore.Figure 5.2. All beaches are not alike: (a) gravel beach ( Bay of Fundy, NS); ( b) coarse, sandy beach (Cape Cod Bay, MA, with broad sand flats); and (c) broad, fine, sandy beach (GA).Redroot (Amaranthus retroflexus) Newfoundland to Florida and Texas (tropical America native)Beach wormwood (Artemisia stellariana) Quebec to Virginia; also Florida and Louisiana (native of Japan)...

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6. Tidal Wetlands as Wildlife Habitat

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pp. 174-210

Figure 6.1. Marsh periwinkles (Littoraria irrorata) climbing smooth cordgrass stems to avoid flooding and predation at high tide in a Georgia salt marsh. Figure 6.2. This generalized food web shows the complexity of interactions between plants and animals in the estuarine environment. Primary producers capture energy from the sun and convert it into biomass that serves as food for some animals, which are the food for others, and so forth. ( Bryant and Pennock 1988; ...

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7. Functions and Values of Tidal Wetlands

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pp. 211-245

Table 7.1. Major functions of tidal wetlands and some of their valuesWater storage Flood- and storm-damage protection, water source during dry season (freshwater wetlands), peat deposits, fish and shellfish habitat, waterfowl and waterbird habitat, recreational boating, fishing, shellfishing, waterfowl hunting, Nutrient retention and cycling Water-quality renovation, increases in plant productivity and aquatic ...

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8. Extent, Threats, and Human Uses of North American Tidal Wetlands

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pp. 246-292

General global distribution of major areas supporting salt marshes and mangroves. Salt marshes dominate the coasts at mid to high latitudes, while mangroves occupy tropical and subtropical shores. (Adapted from: Boorman 2003; Chapman 1977; data from Geoscience Australia, NASA Earth ObservatorySources: Hall et al. 1994 for Alaska based on statistical sampling; other estimates from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?s National Wetlands Inventory data, September 2009 and Massachusetts DEP.Notes: To convert acreage to hectares multiply by 0.4047. * District of Columbia had 230 acres of tidal ...

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9. Tidal Wetland Conservation and Management

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pp. 293-329

Table 9.1. Timeline of numerous significant events impacting tidal wetland conservation1849?1860 Swamp Lands Act gave land to 15 states (excluding the original 13 states) to be drained and reclaimed ( LA, AL, AR, CA, FL, IL, IN, IA, MI, MS, MO, OH, WI, MN, and OR), and thereby 1899 Rivers and Harbors Act enacted giving U.S. Army Corps of Engineers responsibility for regulating dredging, filling and construction of structures in navigable waters. (Note: Although not originally ...

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10. Wetland Identification, Mapping, Delineation, and Functional Assessment

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pp. 330-352

Wetland Identification, Mapping, Delineation, and Functional Assessment 331Table 10.1. Plants specifically referenced in state tidal wetland laws in some northeastern states for wetland Schoenoplectus maritimus (Scirpus maritimus, S. paludosus) X X ? ?Notes: Plants are listed by current scientific name with the one listed in the law given in parentheses (to species level, with typos corrected ). Where genus only was referenced, the appropriate species have been marked. ...

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11. Tidal Wetland Restoration, Creation, and Monitoring

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pp. 353-386

Table 11.1. Fundamental questions to consider in planning tidal wetland restoration or creation1. What type of tidal wetland is desired? (Specifying this may be required by regulatory agencies as a condition 2. How do existing government wetland regulations apply to the proposed restoration or creation project? (Consult federal, state, and local agencies for specifics; permits are often required for proactive restoration 3. Where are suitable restoration or creation sites located and are they available for use? (This step involves ...

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12. The Future of Tidal Wetlands

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pp. 387-416

Figure 12.1. Three examples of relative sea-level rise ( RSLR) for an area expe-riencing varying rates: (a) positive RSLR due to some subsidence ( NY); ( b) very high positive RSLR from extreme subsidence (Grand Isle, LA); and (c) negative RSLR due to extreme uplift from tectonic activity ( Juneau, AK). ( NOAA)Figure 12.2. Bulkheading shores to protect private property prevent natural coastal ...

Appendix A. List of North American Wetlands of International Importance: Tidal Wetlands

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pp. 417-420

Appendix B. Profiles of Some Tidal Wetland Restoration Projects on the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts of the United States

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pp. 421-426


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pp. 427-502


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pp. 503-508

About the Author, Back Cover

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pp. 509-540

E-ISBN-13: 9781613762745
E-ISBN-10: 1613762747
Print-ISBN-13: 9781625340221
Print-ISBN-10: 1625340222

Page Count: 560
Illustrations: 166 illus.
Publication Year: 2013