Sedimentological Equilibrium of Marshes and Mudflats at Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia
Cofer-Shabica, Stephen V.
Nakashima, Lindsay D.
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Coastal wetland loss has become nationally recognized as a significant habitat destruction and degradation process (Frayer et al., 1983 and Park et al., 1989). The causes of land loss in wetlands are complex, however, linkages to natural processes and cultural factors are poorly understood in most cases. Efforts to establish causal relationships have led a number of researchers to develop techniques for assessing changes in marsh environments. Until recently these techniques have been limited to measurements of planimetric change or land loss. Changes in rates of sedimentation, nutrient supply, and inundation may cause physiological stress to marsh vegetation. The ultimate result is plant death, disintegration of the root mat, and land loss. Few efforts have been directed toward measuring the early process-setting changes. The rate of change in marsh surface elevation - if it could be measured reliably - might serve as a diagnostic predictor of these more subtle effects of microtopographical change. Such knowledge could serve as the basis of a very focused countermeasure program to reduce or stop land loss.