Enwright, N.M., Cheney, W.C., Evans, K., Thurman, H.R., Woodrey, M.S., Fournier, A.M.V., Bauer, A., Cox, J., Goehring, S., Hill, H., Hondrick, K., Kappes, P., Levy, H., Moon, J., Nyman, J.A., Pitchford, J., Storey, D., Sukiennik, M., and Wilson, J., 2022, Mapping irregularly flooded wetlands, high marsh, and salt pannes/flats along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/P9MLO26U.
Irregularly flooded coastal wetlands support ecosystem goods and services, including providing habitat for fish and wildlife, supporting coastal food webs, buffering inland areas from storm impacts, reducing flood impacts, enhancing water quality, sequestering carbon, and providing recreational opportunities. These coastal resources are under threats due to accelerated sea-level rise and rapid coastal development. Repeated observations of the spatial distribution and extent of coastal wetlands are needed for establishing a baseline condition from which future changes can be compared. High marsh and salt pannes/flats are a subset of irregularly flooded coastal wetland ecosystems that provide important habitat for threatened and priority bird species across the northern Gulf of Mexico, including Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis), Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis), and Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula). These maps, produced through a multidisciplinary project funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) RESTORE Science Program (award NA19NOS4510195), provide the first regional baseline map of high marsh and salt pannes/flats along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast. These maps will be used to guide avian monitoring efforts and investigate the effects of fire on marshes along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast. Among many potential applications, these data can be used to assist with species monitoring efforts and species vulnerability assessments, guide coastal wetland monitoring, map nuisance flooding in vegetated coastal wetlands, and evaluate change for future high marsh predictions. These targeted maps complement more extensive and thematically detailed land cover mapping products like the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification (https://myfwc.com/research/gis/applications/articles/fl-land-cover-classification/) and the Texas Ecological Mapping Systems (https://tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/land/programs/landscape-ecology/ems/).