The Tuckerton Peninsula is the designated sentinel site of the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve for the detection and monitoring of climate change effects, most notably sea-level rise and inundation, as well as other natural and anthropogenic drivers of change. It is a 2,000 ha Spartina salt marsh system of state Wildlife Management Lands. Sentinel site infrastructure has been installed to assess climate change effects. Projects are ongoing to document changes in marsh vegetation, marsh accretion rates and surface elevation, and conversion of marsh to intertidal/subtidal habitat with continued sea-level rise and coastal subsidence. Of particular note, biomonitoring surveys, marsh elevation and emergent vegetation mapping, and vegetation health metrics acquisition are being conducted to characterize vital spatio-temporal changes in the system. Innovative high-resolution remote sensing applications, habitat mapping, and system modeling are yielding significant new data on the Tuckerton Peninsula. Extensive monitoring of the emergent salt marsh vegetation community of the peninsula is also adding to the database of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) sentinel site network. By collecting and analyzing data consistently through time on emergent vegetation and structural features in the peninsula, investigators are generating habitat trends and baseline data us fid for characterizing spatio-temporal structural and marsh composition changes for effective coastal zone management. The changes observed in the demographic and ecological characteristics of the emergent Spartina salt marsh habitat are critical to understanding the dynamics of future salt marsh habitat change in other coastal wetlands of New Jersey and the mid-Atlantic region subjected to rising sea level and inundation. In addition, the Tuckerton Peninsula will serve as a local reference platform for ecological assessment of NERRS salt marsh systems in other biogeographical regions of the U.S. Together, current and future projects will leverage our understanding of climate change impacts on the peninsula and will help coastal managers plan effective adaptation strategies for future loss of this extensive marsh platform that currently buffers human settlement from extreme weather-related events and inundation associated with coastal storms and rising sea level. KEY WORDS: Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, Tuckerton Peninsula, sentinel site, climate change
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