Georgia Coastal Ecosystems


31° 25' 37.2" N, 81° 22' 15.6" W
Brief Site Description: 
Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER site encompassing three adjacent sounds on the Georgia coast, including upland, intertidal and submerged habitats
Detailed Site Description: 

The Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research site (GCE) was established by the National Science Foundation in 2000. The study domain encompasses three adjacent sounds (Altamaha, Doboy, Sapelo) on the coast of Georgia, U.S.A., and includes upland (mainland, barrier islands, marsh hammocks), intertidal (fresh, brackish and salt marsh) and submerged (river, estuary, continental shelf) habitats.

Patterns and processes in this complex landscape vary spatially within and between sites, and temporally on multiple scales (tidal, diurnal, seasonal, and inter-annual). Overlain on this spatial and temporal variation are long-term trends caused by climate change, sea level rise, and human alterations of the landscape. These long-term trends are likely to manifest in many ways, including changes in water quality, river discharge, runoff and tidal inundation patterns throughout the estuarine landscape.

The GCE field site is based at the University of Georgia Marine Institute on Sapelo Island, and the program is administered at the University of Georgia Department of Marine Sciences in Athens, Georgia. Over 60 participants, representing 14 academic institutions and agencies, are currently involved in GCE research and educational programs. The GCE Information Management System provides online access to hundreds of core data sets, ancillary data sets from partner agencies, a searchable document and imagery archive, and a searchable bibliography of over 1400 publications from 50 years of research on the Georgia coast and Sapelo Island.

Ecoregion:  warm subtropical Slope (%): 0 - 2  % elevation: 0 - 200  m Geological material:  coastal plain sediments

Data available - soil solid:  OC, N, macronutrients, bulk density, sedimentology

Habitat - Salt marsh, estuary, intertidal sediments, surficial aquifer, oyster reefs, barrier island

Research - variability in estuarine ecosystem processes is primarily mediated by the mixture of fresh and salt water flow across the coastal landscape.

Field Site Type: 
US affiliate
unconsolidated materials
Soil Order: 
Study Start Date: 
Saturday, January 1, 2000 - 00:00
Mean Annual Precipitation: 
1 273millimeters / year
Average Annual Temperature: 
Hydrology: Name: 
Altamaha River
Hydrology: Surface water stream order: 
Sixth Order
Hydrology: Surface water - Stream Flow Performance: 
Hydrology: Groundwater: 
Arrangment of Aquifer Components - Three unit system of an unconfined aquifer, confined aquifer and a confining bed
Land Cover: 
Woody Wetlands