Through a Glass Darkly: Past, present, and future wetland change


Jan. 24. 2007


Gonzalez, L
Lester, LJ
Alvis, W

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Galveston Bay Estuary Program


Habitat loss is identified as the number one priority problem in The Galveston Bay Plan. Of the many habitat types existing in the Lower Galveston Bay Watershed, estuarine and palustrine wetlands (i.e. bay marshes, prairie pothole complexes, and forested wetlands) are some of the most important in terms of their effects on water and sediment quality, species protection, production of seafood, public access, and quality of life. With the human population of the Houston-Galveston region forecasted to double to ten million people in the coming decades, the loss of estuarine and palustrine wetlands and other coastal habitats will likely remain as the major issue facing the Lower Galveston Bay Watershed in the years to come. Given that such an emphasis has been placed on habitat loss, a number of regional studies have been undertaken to quantify that loss in terms of the types and quantities of wetlands converted to other land uses. Individually, these studies differ in analytical methodologies and in the final quantification of wetland acres gained and lost. However, the results of these varying studies can be synthesized to describe the "big picture" in coastal wetland change in the Lower Galveston Bay Watershed over the last 50 years. Additionally, the data can be used to provide to project estimates of future change in wetland habitats. Data from recent analyses describing wetland loss in the Lower Galveston Bay Watershed in the last decade are synthesized and presented. The findings of those analyses are discussed in the context of selected Galveston Bay wetland loss studies conducted over the last 20 years. We conclude with a discussion of projected wetland change.




coastal habitats, estuarine wetlands, habitat loss, palustrine wetlands, projects wetland changes