, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 861-870
Date: 19 Jun 2013

Coastal Marsh Vegetation Assemblages of Galveston Bay: Insights for the East Texas Chenier Plain

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Abstract

Coastal marshes are composed of distinct vegetation assemblages that contribute to ecosystem functions and services over time and space. In recent decades, natural and anthropogenic changes have led to large-scale marsh loss along the Chenier Plain of the Gulf of Mexico. An understanding of the composition and dominance of the vegetation assemblages that form these coastal marshes is necessary to effectively assess and monitor their stability under changing conditions. To investigate marsh vegetation assemblages along the Texas Chenier Plain, we analyzed the composition and dominance of 135 marsh plots distributed across two study areas bordering the East Bay of Galveston Bay in Chambers County, Texas using cluster analysis. Seven general vegetation assemblages were identified. The assemblages were evaluated using indicator species analysis and Multi-Response Permutation Procedures and compared to marsh vegetation assemblages found in the Louisiana Chenier Plain. Our data provide a foundation for better understanding of vegetation patterns found along the East Texas Chenier Plain allowing managers and conservationists the ability to better evaluate the effects of marsh change due to climatic and human driven pressures.