Long-Term Monitoring Methods

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Long-Term Monitoring Methods

The Mid-Atlantic Coastal Wetlands Assessment has an established network of ten tidal wetlands. Over the past five to ten years, a suite of biological, chemical and physical characters have been monitoring annually to multiple times per year by staff at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in collaboration with Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and Barnegat Bay Partnership staff. This suite of physical, chemical and biological measures have been used as indices of coastal marsh health, to gauge whether the marsh platform elevation is keeping pace with sea level rise, to determine whether the biological communities are diverse and robust, and to measure whether marsh erosion is occurring.

The suite of parameters monitored includes:

  • Marsh elevation change and accumulation
  • Marsh elevation and plant community composition along transects
  • Vegetation cover in fixed plots
  • Above and belowground plant biomass
  • Soil composition
  • Water quality
  • Rates of horizontal erosion




Monitoring Locations

Monitoring Stations include 11 sites in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, which vary in geomorphology, nutrient and freshwater supply, and tidal range. Of the sites in Barnegat Bay, one site was located on the barrier island, and three sites were located in back-bay locations. Of the back-barrier locations, two are located adjacent to each other in OMWM and non-OMWM impacted sites. The abbreviation OMWM refers to open water marsh management, a practice of constructing ponds to prevent shallow ponding on the marsh surface, prime mosquito breeding conditions, but is controversial among the marsh ecology community because it is ecologically disruptive. In Delaware Bay, six tidal wetlands were monitored, including there tidal freshwater marshes, once brackish marsh, and two salt marshes.

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Site Location Coordinates Estuary Tidal Range Salinity
Crosswicks Bordentown, NJ 40° 9.76’N, 74° 42.51’W Delaware Bay 2.4 m 0.10 ‰
Tinicum NWR Philadelphia, PA 39° 53.05’N, 75° 16.49’W Delaware Bay 1.7 m 0.18 ‰
Christina River Wilmington, DE 39° 43.29’N, 75° 34.07’W Delaware Bay 1.7 m 0.4 ‰
Dividing Creek Dividing Creek, NJ 39° 14.14’N, 75° 6.76’W Delaware Bay 1.7 m 16.7 ‰
Maurice River Bivalve, NJ 39° 15.95’N, 74° 59.72’W Delaware Bay 1.7 m 11.2 ‰
Dennis Creek South Dennis, NJ 39° 10.58’N, 74° 51.74’W Delaware Bay 1.6 m 15.9 ‰
Broadkill Lewes, DE 39° 47.13’N, 75° 10.75’W Delaware Bay 1.1 m 26.9 ‰
Island Beach State Park Seaside Park, NJ 39° 47.96’N, 74° 6.10’W Barnegat Bay 0.2 m 26.8 ‰
Channel Creek (OMWM) West Creek, NJ 39° 37.43’N, 74° 16.20’W Barnegat Bay 0.6 m 25.6 ‰
Horse Point West Creek, NJ 39° 37.59’N, 74° 15.43’W/td> Barnegat Bay 0.6 m 25.8 ‰
Reedy Creek Brick, NJ 40° 1.74’N, 74° 5.07’W Barnegat Bay 0.2 m 20.2 ‰