Growth along the nation's coasts in combination with climate change has exacerbated coastal pollution and associated problems such as harmful algal blooms, “dead zones,” aquatic invasive species, coral reef die-offs and related effects. Understanding coastal ecological processes, ocean dynamics and the impacts of natural and human-induced changes is fundamental to the management and restoration of coastal ecosystems and habitats.
Invasive species are species not native to an ecosystem, and whose introduction to that ecosystem can harm the environment, public health or welfare. Invasive species may constitute the largest single threat to our coastal ecosystem, our coastal economy, and human health in the coastal region. Invasive species often out-compete native species including species of special concern. All four coasts—East, West, Gulf, and Great Lakes—and the majority of the interior of this country have been severely impacted by aquatic invasive species.
Species of Concern
- Prudence Island Cooperative Weed Management Area, Narragansett Bay Reserve, RI
- Spartina Survey and Control, Padilla Bay Reserve, WA
- The Effect of Australian Pine Removal on Sea Turtle Nesting Patterns, Keewaydin Island, Florida,
Rookery Bay Reserve, FL
- Swift Tract Invasives Removal Project, Weeks Bay Reserve, AL
Anthropogenic and climate change impacts the ability of threatened and endangered species to rebound. Development creates habitat fragmentation which often leads to insufficient habitat space and connectivity to support the multiple life stages of individual species. Individual species are also affected by visitor use impacts on breeding and foraging habitats. Reserves manage and restore habitat to support species of concern by restoring degraded habitat, enhancing habitat connectivity to support multiple life stages of particular species, managing visitor use pressure during critical life stages and restoring species and habitats such as native oysters and sea grass beds where possible. Reserves also work within the watershed to identify, protect, and restore critical habitat for estuarine species such as salmon.
- Nest Protection Efforts of Least Tern and Wilson's Plover in ACE Basin, Ace Basin Reserve, SC
- Pine Barrens Management, Narragansett Bay Reserve, RI
- Clapper Rail Rallus longirostris Distribution in the North Inlet Estuary, North Inlet- Winyah Bay Reserve, SC
- Restoration of Native Olympia Oysters within the South Slough Estuary, South Slough Reserve, OR
- Beginning life in the beginning of rivers: juvenile salmon in headwater streams of the lower Kenai Peninsula, Kachemak Bay Reserve, AK
Many reserves manage habitat that require fire to survive. Fire management through prescribed burns is particularly challenging as these areas often are located near development. Many reserves manage these fire dependent habitats and monitor habitat and species recovery.
Development along our nation’s estuaries often results in hydrologic restrictions from roads, dykes, and railroads. These restrictions alter habitat, water quality, and species distribution. Many reserves are addressing these impacts by managing or restoring hydrology through the replacement of culverts, management of tide gates, and/or removal of dykes.