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ISRN Ecology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 950173, 13 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/950173
Research Article

Development of an Inventory of Coastal Wetlands for Eastern Georgian Bay, Lake Huron

Department of Biology, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8S 4K1

Received 5 December 2011; Accepted 11 January 2012

Academic Editors: T. Muotka and S. Sabater

Copyright © 2012 Jonathan Midwood et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Coastal wetlands of eastern Georgian Bay provide critical habitat for a variety of wildlife, especially spawning and nursery habitat for Great Lakes fishes. Although the eastern shoreline has been designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, a complete inventory is lacking. Prior effort by the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Consortium (GLCWC) was unable to fully identify coastal wetland habitat in eastern Georgian Bay due to limited data coverage. Here we outline the methodology, analyses, and applications of the McMaster Coastal Wetland Inventory (MCWI) created from a comprehensive collection of satellite imagery from 2002–2008. Wetlands were manually delineated in a GIS as two broad habitat types: coastal marsh and upstream wetland. Coastal marsh was further subdivided into low marsh (LM; permanently inundated) and high marsh (HM; seasonally inundated) habitat. Within the coastal zone of eastern and northern Georgian Bay there are 12629 distinct wetland units comprised of 5376 ha of LM, 3298 ha of HM and 8676 ha of upstream habitat. The MCWI identifies greater total wetland area within the coastal zone than does the GLCWC inventory (17350 ha versus 3659 ha resp.). The MCWI provides the most current and comprehensive inventory of coastal wetlands in eastern Georgian Bay.