The estuarine tidal marsh priority system in the Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks LCC (GCPO LCC) Integrated Science Agenda (ISA) includes general ecological systems of brackish/saltwater marsh and seagrass beds and was adopted as one of two initial ecological systems of focus for the Gulf Coast subgeography of the GCPO LCC (the other being beaches and dunes). The desired ecological state for Gulf Coast estuarine tidal marsh is a “stable marsh systems comprised of native vegetation and limited open water conditions occurring in large blocks with natural hydrology present” and was derived from the breadth of available expertise and resources in the GCPO LCC Adaptation Science Management Team Gulf Coast multi-taxa working group. As in the other ISA priority systems, desired ecological states are defined within general categories of landscape attributes (i.e., endpoints) related to habitat amount, configuration, and condition.
In this rapid ecological assessment GCPO LCC geospatial science staff used the most current, comprehensive and consistent large-scale geospatial data available to assess a series of landscape endpoints (i.e., ecological indicators) that reflect the desired ecological state of the estuarine tidal marsh system. Landscape endpoints include targets of large blocks of unbroken marsh (>250 ac), connectivity (interdigitation) of marsh types, moderate amounts of edge within large marsh blocks, presence of barrier islands in riverine dominated systems, >70% emergent vegetative cover, <20% open water, 15-30% submergent vegetative cover, native marsh plant dominance, a natural salinity gradient, and adequate freshwater flow and tidal influence.
The data layers in this gallery represent a summation of available large-scale data used to assess each estuarine tidal marsh landscape endpoint, with heavy reliance on data generated by the USGS. Marsh Type Delineation Project, NOAA Coastal Change Analysis Program, Florida Cooperative Land Cover, NOAA and state-level salinity and tidal data, USGS flow data, and USGS Gulf-wide SAV data in combination with Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection data on submerged vegetation. We also coalesce this data into a condition index score that indicates where on the landscape estuarine tidal marsh systems are at or near the desired ecological state (i.e., where we can find good estuarine marsh habitat).
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