Exotic Species, Migratory Birds, Sea Level Rise, Wetlands, And Contaminants...USGS Scientists Discuss Innovative Chesapeake Bay Restoration Studies

From evidence of exotic nutria damage to wetlands to above average sea level rise, the Chesapeake Bay watershed is a complex and compelling scientific challenge. Methods and findings pertaining to these and other issues are presented by USGS scientists in poster sessions at the Chesapeake Bay Federally Supported Science Meeting, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, Md., Dec. 9-10, 1998.

Rising Sea Level in Chesapeake Bay Exceeds World Rates
Tide gauges for the Chesapeake Bay and the Mid-Atlantic coast show rates of sea level rise that are twice the worldwide average. Scientists disagree on the cause of the recent increase. USGS scientists are conducting research to try and address the question of the rate of sea level rise in the Chesapeake Bay and what it means for the environment and society. They are trying to find out if the increase is caused by land subsidence, or if it is related to a changing climate and ocean volume, and whether or not human activities account for some part of the changes. The USGS role in sea-level research is national in scope and ranges from remote sensing and geologic mapping of wetlands to studies of coastal erosion and evidence of older shorelines in the geologic record. In the Chesapeake region, the effort is focused on reconstructing the detailed pattern of relative sea-level change during the last 6,000 to 8,000 years. This has involved a number of activities including remote sensing and extracting core samples of marshes and tributary creeks in the Patuxent River basin to provide sedimentary and biological records of rising sea level. ("Rising Sea Level in Chesapeake Bay," by Curtis E. Larsen, and Martha Herzog, Reston, Va.)

South American Nutria Destroy Marsh Habitat
USGS scientists believe that the habits of nutria, an exotic rodent that has invaded Chesapeake Bay wetlands, are apparently accelerating marsh loss in the bay region. Preliminary findings indicate that overpopulation is the k

Contact: Bob Reynolds
United States Geological Survey

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