Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER - United States of America
Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER
United States of America
carbon and nutrient cycling
long term monitoring
The Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research (GCE-LTER) site is located on the central Georgia coast of the Southeastern United States. The primary study area encompasses the estuaries, sounds and marsh complexes surrounding Sapelo Island. The GCE study area is bounded on the east by the Atlantic Ocean (South Atlantic Bight). The upland-estuarine interface consists of the riverine estuary of the Altamaha River, the lagoonal estuaries bordering the mainland and Sapelo Island, and the tidal marsh complexes fringing small hammocks distributed throughout the coastal area. The salinity regimes of these estuaries vary extensively due to the interactions of river discharge, ground-water delivery and oceanic tides. The ecology of the GCE site is typical of the Carolinian biogeographic province, which is characterized by vast expanses of tidal salt marshes protected by a buffer of barrier islands. The principal biome type is coastal barrier island/marsh complex, and the main types of communities under study are salt marsh, estuary, intertidal sediment, surficial aquifer, oceanic sound, and oyster reef.
General Characteristics, Purpose, History
The overarching goal of the GCE LTER research program is to understand the mechanisms by which variation in the quality, source and amount of both fresh and salt water create temporal and spatial variability in estuarine habitats and processes, in order to predict directional changes that will occur in response to long-term shifts in estuarine salinity patterns.
The Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER is building on the long term legacy of scientific study and ecosystem preservation that have been established by the University of Georgia Marine Institute (UGAMI) on Sapelo Island since 1954 and the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR) established in 1976. Additionally, the Georgia Rivers LMER (GARLMER), which was concluded in October 2000, examined processing of materials transported through the intertidal zone of the Altamaha River and of 4 other Georgia coastal rivers. Since the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER site was initially funded in May 2000, we have established a comprehensive environmental monitoring network to map spatial and temporal variability and mean values of key environmental factors throughout the GCE study area. This network is composed of independent monitoring stations operated by the GCE program and stations operated in collaboration with other programs and agencies (UGA Marine Institute, SINERR program, and USGS).
Affiliation and Network Specific Information