Status and trends of wetland and aquatic habitats on Texas barrier islands, Coastal Bend

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Wetland and aquatic habitats are essential components of barrier islands along the Texas coast. These valuable resources are highly productive biologically and chemically and are part of an ecosystem on which a variety of flora and fauna depend. Scientific investigations of wetland distribution and abundance through time are prerequisites to effective habitat management, thereby ensuring their protection and preservation and directly promoting long-term biological productivity and public use. This report presents results of an investigation to determine the current status and historical trends of wetlands and associated aquatic habitats along south-central Texas barrier islands from Mesquite Bay to north Laguna Madre. The study area encompasses San Jose Island, Harbor Island, Mustang Island, and north Padre Island, an area that is located within Aransas, Nueces, and Kleberg Counties (Fig. 1). San Jose Island is a broad accretionary barrier island with well-developed fore-island dunes, extensive back-island estuarine marshes, and numerous relict beach ridges and intervening swales that are the sites of palustrine marshes in the central part of the island; it has broad flood-tidal delta/washover fan complexes on its northeastern end. In contrast, Mustang Island and north Padre Island where eolian processes have erased most traces of accretionary features on the islands. Back-island estuarine marshes are important components of the islands, particularly at the bayward end of hurricane washover channels. Between and landward of San Jose and Mustang Islands is Harbor Island, a flood-tidal delta complex at the bayward mouth of the tidal inlet, Aransas Pass. Harbor Island is the site of extensive black mangroves and seagrasses.


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