Conservation Science
Northeast Region


Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Long Island Sound Area: 130 Year Assessment

cover of report

This report provides the first 130 year assessment of tidal wetland change for the entire Long Island Sound area. The results indicate an overall 31% loss of tidal wetlands with a 27% loss in Connecticut and 48% loss in New York. Despite tidal wetland legislation passed in the 1970s, wetland decline in Long Island Sound continues. After the 1970s New York sustained more wetland loss (a decrease of 19%) than Connecticut (a slight gain of 8%). Current research points to multiple, nuanced and complex causes of present-day tidal wetland changes. A major present-day concern is wetland vulnerability to loss due to potentially increased amounts of open water on the marsh surface. An open water assessment initially conducted in Connecticut indicates an average of 47% permanent open water on the marshes studied –a less healthy status. Understanding the extent and context of tidal wetland change is important for effective future protection. In addition to overall loss, we discuss the historic extent, present-day stressors and importance and implications of wetland decline to the Long Island Sound ecosystem. We summarize other local studies of marsh decline and degradation in portions of the Long Island Sound and conclude with recommendations for protecting this valuable habitat type given historical context and current stressors.

View or download a pdf of the report (PDF-166MB)
View or download a pdf of the Executive Summary (PDF-454KB)


Last updated: March 10, 2016