The Mid-Atlantic Coastal Wetland Assessment

Sea Level Rise


The Mid-Atlantic Coastal Wetland Assessment

Ecosystem Health


The Mid-Atlantic Coastal Wetland Assessment

Functioning Landscapes

Remote Sensing

Landscape census surveys using satellite imagery and aerial photography identify trends in wetland extent and condition

Rapid Assessments

Field assessments of vegetation, soil, and disturbance are used to identify spatial and temporal trends in wetland condition

Station Monitoring

Fixed station monitoring tracks changes in physical, chemical, and biological conditions in relation to sea level rise and other stressors


The Mid-Atlantic Coastal Wetlands Assessment (MACWA) is the first wetland program to study tidal wetland health in our region. MACWA is a joint effort of two National Estuary Programs (The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and Barnegat Bay Partnership) together with the Academy of Natural Sciences. MACWA aims to supply coastal managers with data to help plan wetland recovery and protection. MACWA consists of remote sensing analysis, rapid assessments, and fixed station monitoring of wetlands in the Delaware Estuary and Barnegat Bay, spanning three states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.




Surface Elevation Tables


Water Quality Stations


Water and Sediment Samples Analyzed

About Fixed Station Long-Term Monitoring

Our monitoring program has focused on measures of marsh elevation change, using sediment elevation tables, analysis of water chemistry at fixed stations, analysis of soil quality, and plant above and belowground biomass. In addition our monitoring program has focused on change over time in wetland vegetation in fixed plots and along transects.


Marsh surface elevation and sediment deposition are monitored using the standard rod surface elevation table (RSET) protocol established by the U.S. Geological Survey

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Wetland Elevation

Marsh elevation is surveyed relative to geodetic and tidal datums, producing an understanding of vulnerability to sea level rise

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Water Quality

At a series of fixed stations, water is collected for field and laboratory assessments of salinity, dissolved oxygen, suspended sediment, and nutrient concentrations

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Soil Chemistry

Soil cores are analyzed for soil bulk density, organic content, organic carbon content, nitrogen content, and phosphorus content

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Plant Biomass

Plant biomass was collected once per year at peak biomass, including aboveground collections, as well as belowground collections using soil cores

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Vegetation Change

At each site, a total of nine permanent quadrats have been established and plant community assemblages are characterized

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Key Personnel

The Mid-Atlantic Coastal Wetland Assessment is led by team members from two National Estuary Programs, the Barnegat Partnership and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, together with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

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Danielle Kreeger

Senior Science Director, PDE

Dr. Kreeger represents the National Estuary Program’s scientific interests by leading and participating in collaborative science and technical teams that address the goals set forth by the organization’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, and is active in shellfish research and restoration.

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David Velinsky

VP, Academy of Natural Sciences

Dr. Velinsky is a biogeochemist, and Professor in the Department of Biodiversity, Earth & Environmental Science at Drexel University. Dr. Velinsky collaborates with governmental agencies on issues related to water quality and wastewater treatment, and teaches courses in oceanography and water chemistry.

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Elizabeth Watson

Environmental Sciences, Drexel

Dr. Watson is an assistant professor of environmental science at Drexel University and is the Wetland Section Leader at the Patrick Center for Environmental Research at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Her research focus is on the interactions between climate and land use as drivers of coastal habitat changes.

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Tracy Elsey Quirk

Louisiana State University

Dr. Elsey Quirk helped establish MACWA monitoring sites and maintains an active research program in Delaware Bay. Dr. Elsey-Quirk teaches courses in wetland plant ecology and studies wetland accretionary dynamics, carbon sequestration, and the effects of human impacts on coastal wetlands ecosystems

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Martha Maxwell-Doyle

Project Coordinator, BBP

Ms. Maxwell-Doyle is the project coordinator for the Barnegat Bay Partnership. Her current work activities at the BBP focus on developing New Jersey specific climate adaptation tools, the monitoring and assessment of local coastal wetlands and providing technical assistance in hazards mitigation planning.

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Kirk Raper

Wetland Project Coordinator, ANS

Mr. Raper monitors marsh elevation change, sediment deposition and accumulation, plant distribution patterns and biomass, soil chemistry, sediment availability and water quality in ten coastal wetlands located in Delaware and Barnegat Bays, and supports overall data management tasks.

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LeeAnn Haaf

Wetland Specialist, PDE

Ms Haaf is a wetland specialist for the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, where her work focuses on understanding the condition, function and long-term stability of coastal wetlands in the Mid-Atlantic Region. She also provides assistance for projects related to wetland health, and is a Drexel University doctoral student

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Angela Padeletti

Science Programs Manager, PDE

Ms. Padeletti oversees a range of projects at PDE including MACWA, freshwater mussel recovery efforts, investigations into ecosystem services provided by shellfish, and the Delaware Estuary Living Shoreline Initiative. Ms. Padeletti helps coordinate funding, and provides managerial support to the project.

Each soil has its own history.


Charles E. Kellog


The wind blowing across Spartina grass sounds like wind of the prairie.


John and Mildred Teal


The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place.


Rachel Carson


Our organizations

MACWA is implemented by two National Estuary Programs, the Barnegat Bay Partnership and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, in assocaiton with the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University


The Barnegat Bay Partnership

The Barnegat Bay Partnership (formerly the Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program) is a partnership of federal, state, municipal, academic, business, and private organizations that work together with the communities of the Barnegat Bay watershed to help restore, protect, and enhance the natural resources of the Barnegat Bay ecosystem. It is one of 28 National Estuary Programs throughout the United States and is administered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The Barnegat Bay Partnership is a department of Ocean County College, a community college located in Toms River, New Jersey.

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The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary

The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) is a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the Delaware Estuary. The Delaware Estuary supplies clean drinking water for millions of people, and supports a booming industrial region; one that contributes $12 billion every year to our local economy. Our waterways and open spaces also provide plenty of free outdoor fun where you can hike the trails, fish the bay, watch wildlife, and paddle a creek! We bring together people, businesses, and governments to restore and protect the Delaware River and Bay. We are the only organization that focuses on the tidal River, from the head of tide at Trenton to the mouth of the Bay at the Atlantic Ocean.

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The Academy of Natural Sciences

The Ruth Patrick Center for Environmental Research at ANS has been devoted to understanding, protecting, and restoring the health of watersheds since 1947. It consists of a multidisciplinary group of environmental scientists and engineers focused on understanding aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and applying this knowledge to assess ecosystem health and develop watershed-level strategies for enhancing environmental quality. The Patrick Center also works with diverse stakeholders, including government, community groups, industry, and environmental organizations to improve environmental stewardship.

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