What habitats are found on Assateague Island?

Habitats of Assateague Island (% area)
Bay Subtidal
and Mudflat
Salt MarshInland WetlandForest and ShrubDunes and GrassBeach Intertidal

Few places offer such a range of habitats within such a short distance from ocean to bay: bay subtidal and mudflat, salt marsh, inland wetland, forest and shrub, dunes and grass, and beach intertidal. Each Assateague Island habitat has its own distinct characteristics. Specialized plants and animals have adapted to and depend on these habitats to be relatively stable in providing them food and shelter.

How will the habitats change on Assateague Island?

Jack Kumer, NPS Natural Resource Specialist, explains how sea-level rise will affect Assateague Island habitats.

Over the long-term, natural geomorphological processes shape barrier islands. Added to that are the short-term effects of storm surge compounded by sea-level rise. Together, these processes will change the habitats—and the plants and animals that live there—that are found at Assateague Island. One challenge for the National Park Service will be to continue to preserve and protect sensitive resources and processes, and to enhance the resiliency of vulnerable habitats.


How will recreational activities change on Assateague Island?

Hugh Cropper, a local land owner, talks about visitor use of the park, specifically deer and duck hunting.
Still photos of sika and American widgeon courtesy of Bill Hubick (www.billhubick.com).

Some of the more popular ways that visitors enjoy Assateague are swimming, fishing, wildlife viewing, boating, and hunting. Most visitors access the park by car, but others come by boat or bicycle. Sea-level rise is expected to change the ways that visitors access and enjoy park resources. Another challenge for the National Park Service will be to develop new ways to facilitate recreational access and other activities along the Seashore. Traditional construction of buildings, roads, and parking lots will become increasingly difficult and costly, if not impossible, to maintain.

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