An Ecological Survey of the Coastal Region of Georgia
NPS Scientific Monograph No. 3
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Chapter 3: THE ISLANDS

Barrier island formation
Beaches and dunes
Physical features
   Effects of waves and currents on beach morphology and structure
   Dune formation
   Composition of beach and dune sand
   Sources of beach and dune sand
The salt spray community of plants
Animals and food webs
   The tidal beach
   Upper beach and dunes
   The loggerhead sea turtle
The island interior
Forest associations and successional relationships
Ponds and sloughs
Food webs and nutrient cycling
   Native vertebrates
   Introduced vertebrates
      Exotic birds and mammals
      Domestic and feral animals
   Invertebrates—noxious arthropods

Chapter 4: THE MARSHES

Formation and sediment characteristics
   Freshwater and brackish marshes
   Salt marsh
Marsh fauna
Primary production
Energy flow and food webs


Physical characteristics
   Patterns of circulation
Fauna of estuaries and inshore waters
Fishery resources of estuaries and inshore waters
Productivity and energy flow
   Food webs


Mainland influences
   Ground water
The marshes and estuaries
   Use and values of the natural marsh-estuary system
   Dredging, filling, diking, and ditching
   Fish and shellfish culture
   The islands


APPENDIX I: Annotated list of fishes of the Georgia coast

APPENDIX II: Annotated list of amphibians and reptiles of the coastal islands of Georgia

APPENDIX III: Checklist of birds occurring in the coastal region of Georgia: species, abundance, and habitat

APPENDIX IV: Locations and descriptions of wading bird rookeries on the Georgia coast

APPENDIX V: Annotated list of mammals of the coastal islands of Georgia

APPENDIX VI: Location of oyster beds and extent of polluted waters closed to oyster harvesting

INDEX (omitted from the online edition)


1 Map of the coastal region of Georgia.

2 Mainland river systems discharging into the estuaries of Georgia.

3 Recharge area of the principal artesian aquifer and direction of ground-water movement.

4 Idealized cross-sections showing barrier island formation from an offshore bar.

5 Formation of barrier islands by submergence.

6 Diagram showing altitude of sea level during past 55,000 years.

7 Geologic ages of the barrier islands of Georgia.

8 Locations of former barrier islands and salt marshes along eroded Wicomico shoreline. Inferred location of preerosion shoreline also indicated.

9 Locations of former barrier islands and salt marshes along eroded Penholoway shoreline. Inferred location of preerosion shoreline also indicated.

10 Locations of barrier islands and lagoonal-salt marsh sediments of six sequences of Pleistocene coastal deposits and for the Holocene deposits.

11 Cross-section of Pleistocene and Holocene sediments of coastal Georgia.

12 Typical profile of beach and dunes showing zonation.

13 Diagrammatic cross-sections of generalized beach types occurring on the barrier islands.

14 Aerial photograph of acute beach erosion on the northern end of Wassaw Island, May 1970.

15 Patterns of sediment deposition, erosion, and transport, Sapelo Island and vicinity.

16 Sea oats (Uniola paniculata)

17 Large dune encroaching upon interior forest on Cumberland Island.

18 Top. Natural dune system on Blackbeard Island, June 1971. Bottom. Severely overgrazed beachfront on Cumberland Island, June 1971.

19 Live oaks pruned by wind and salt spray on St. Catherines Island.

20 Top. Loggerhead sea turtle nest destroyed by raccoons on Blackbeard Island, June 1971. Bottom. Wire shield placed over sea turtle nest to retard raccoon depredation.

21 Live oak forest, Cumberland Island, June 1971.

22 Top. Healthy Spanish moss growing on live oak on St. Simons Island, 1960. Bottom. Same area, July 1970.

23 Mature hickory stand on Cumberland Island.

24 Open pine forest and pastures grazed by cattle on St. Catherines Island.

25 Top. Slough of recent origin behind dunes on Cumberland Island, June 1971. Bottom. Slough in interior of St. Catherines Island, May 1971.

26 Aerial photograph showing typical salt marsh drainage pattern.

27 Typical profile of a salt marsh.

28 Very generalized diagram of production and utilization of organic matter in the salt marsh.

29 Bottom topography of the continental shelf of Georgia.

30 Direction of tidal currents at ebb and flood tides in the Savannah area as predicted by a physical model.

31 Map showing decline of artesian water levels in the coastal area of Georgia, 1880-1961.

32 Map showing oscillatory tidal currents in Ossebaw Sound and inshore waters and the littoral current.

33 Aerial photograph of Savannah Beach, Tybee Island, May 1970.

34 Locations and compositions of wading bird and shore bird rookeries on the Georgia coast.

35A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H Locations of oyster beds and extent of polluted waters closed to oyster harvesting.


1 Normal temperatures for four locations of the coast of Georgia.

2 Average rainfall at four locations on the coast of Georgia.

3 Population trends for the coastal countries of Georgia.

4 Areas of Georgia islands and lengths of their beaches.

5 Some infauna of barrier beaches in Georgia.

6 Some important woody plants of live oak forests on the barrier islands of Georgia.

7 Some common plants of sloughs and ponds on Georgia islands.

8 Mammals of the coastal islands of Georgia.

9 Present distribution of domestic and feral mammals on the barrier islands.

10 Coastal wetland types occurring on the Georgia coast.

11 Relative salt tolerance of some plants important in the coastal marshes of Georgia.

12 Some naturally occurring plants of significance in waterfowl management.

13 Summary of energy flow in the salt marsh.

14 Epifauna collected from docks at Colonels Island.

15 Invertebrate fauna of Sapelo and St. Catherines sounds.

16 Fish with total landings in Georgia of more than 1000 lb per year.

17 Common salt water sport fishes of Georgia.

18 Some food habits studies of common estuarine fishes.

19 Feeding habits of estuarine fishes.

Gerald Ford,
President of the United States

Rogers. C. B. Morton, Secretary
U. S. Department of the Interior

Ronald H. Walker, Director
National Park Service

As the Nation's principal conservation agency, the Department of the Interior has basic responsibilities for water, fish, wildlife, mineral, land, park, and recreational resources. Indian and Territorial affairs are other major concerns of America's "Department of Natural Resources." The Department works to assure the wisest choice in managing all our resources so each will make its full contribution to a better United States—now and in the future.

This publication is one in a series of research studies devoted to special topics which have been explored in connection with the various areas in the National Park System. It is printed at the Government Printing Office.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Main entry under title:

An Ecological survey of the coastal region of Georgia.

(National Park Service scientific monograph series, no. 3)
Includes bibliographies.
Supt. of Docs, no.: I 29.80:3
1. Ecology—Georgia. 2. Ecology—Atlantic coast (United States) I. Johnson, Albert Sydney. II. Series: United States. National Park Service. Scientific monograph series, no. 3.
QH105.G4E26   574.5'09758'7   74-11115

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Last Updated: 1-Apr-2005