Tidal Creeks Project

Tidal Creek

In the Southeastern US, tidal creeks, particularly the upper regions or headwaters, are sensitive to land use changes that occur with our expanding coastal population. Tidal creek ecosystems are the primary aquatic link between stormwater runoff from the land to the estuaries. Small tidal creeks begin in upland areas and drain into larger creeks forming a network. The creeks increase in size until they join a tidal river, sound, bay, or harbor that ultimately connects to the coastal ocean. Tidal creeks are connected to coastal communities by providing them with critical ecological services such as seafood, recreation opportunities, and pollutant filtration. Tidal creeks and salt marshes provide critical feeding grounds and nursery areas for approximately 75% of our commercially and recreationally important fisheries species. They are complex systems with high biological productivity. Tidal creek systems serve as sentinels or “first responders” to coastal change due to their close connection to the land.

Previous study results have provided a framework and conceptual model for understanding the changes in ecological and public health indicators based on impervious cover associated with coastal development. When the amount of impervious cover in the watershed of these systems exceeds 10-20%, water and sediment quality were impaired. Impairment of living resources and nursery functions were generally detected when the amount of impervious cover exceeded about 20-30% of the watershed area.

How do we sustainably continue to have population growth in the coastal area and still maintain our quality of life? This is one of our primary concerns.

For more information contact:

Dr. Denise Sanger
217 Fort Johnson Road
Charleston, SC 29412
Phone: 843-953-9074
Fax: 843-953-9820