Sentinel Site Development of a Major Salt Marsh System in the Mid-Atlantic Region (USA)


The Tuckerton Peninsula, a large expanse (~2000 ha) of highly inundated Spartina alterniflora salt marsh habitat, forms one of the most extensive coastal wetland systems in New Jersey (USA). It is projected to be among the first salt marsh systems in New Jersey to be lost by rising sea level driven by climate change. The changes that occur in the demographic, ecologic, and ecogeomorphic characteristics of the salt marsh habitat at this location will be vital to understanding future habitat change in coastal wetlands in the Mid-Atlantic region. As a consequence, the Tuckerton Peninsula salt marsh system is designated as a sentinel site of the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve (JCNERR) for the detection, monitoring, and assessment of climate change effects, most notably sea-level rise and inundation. Development of the Tuckerton Peninsula as a sentinel site requires a high accuracy local geodetic control network to connect existing water quality monitoring stations, vegetation transects and monitoring surface elevation tables, ground water wells, and digital elevation models on the same vertical datum. The integration of these monitoring infrastructure components is crucial to effective operation of the sentinel site. It will enable the collection of essential data to assess rates of marsh migration and upland transgression, as well as delineate key natural and anthropogenic drivers influencing habitat condition and change. The JCNERR sentinel site designation supports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s long-term goal of assessing coastal vulnerability in the USA to climate change and generating data useful for forging climate adaptation and mitigation initiatives for coastal communities. Habitat and vertical control data collected at this sentinel site will be made available to decision makers across the nation and will enable them to determine how the loss of critical salt marsh habitat will affect coastal communities, their adaptation to future habitat loss, and their development of mitigation plans to address impacts and enhance resiliency.

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Michael J. Kennish, M. , Spahn, A. and Sakowicz, G. (2014) Sentinel Site Development of a Major Salt Marsh System in the Mid-Atlantic Region (USA). Open Journal of Ecology, 4, 77-86. doi: 10.4236/oje.2014.43010.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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