Wildlife of the Texas Coastal Zone
Coastal wildlife provides both economic and aesthetic benefits. Especially important to man are waterfowl, fish-eating birds and shorebirds, deer, squirrel, turkey, doves, quail, fur-bearers, and threatened species. Many of these coastal biologic resources have undergone losses in the recent past due to reductions in the quality of wildlife habitat - reductions caused, for the most part, by man's alteration of the natural environment. Wildlife losses, occurring at varying rates and levels, are difficult to appraise and are often so subtle that they are not noticed until considerable change had taken place. Many species, especially those dependent on wetlands, are declining in abundance. The study of these declines and the reasons for them is hampered by the lack of baseline measures of habitat quantity and quality. Wetlands and submerged grassflats in the bays are the two most critical habitats. Wetlands are highly productive and are essential to many forms of life, both marine and terrestrial. Marsh draining and filling, flood control measures, channelization and dredging, and other developments have reduced freshwater inflows, thus diminishing habitat quality. Forest monoculture, intensive agriculture, and land fragmentation have also caused wildlife habitats to diminish or deteriorate.