Ecosystem Function

Habitat:  Louisiana coastal wetlands provide crucial habitat to migratory birds along the central flyway.  Over 5 million waterfowl winter in the coastal wetlands.
Fisheries:  The habitat and detritus found in the coastal wetlands is crucial to many of the commercially important fishery species.  Provides habitat to over 75% of the state fisheries harvest which is the largest harvest in the lower 48 states.  
shrimp boat
Storm buffering:  The masses of vegetation present in the coastal wetlands have the value of absorbing storm surge associated with large storms.  This value is estimated to be worth approximately 500 million to 2.2 billion dollars annually.  If this function were to be lost, over 2 million people would have to relocate from coastal areas.  It is estimated that every 2.7 miles of wetland absorb 1 foot of storm surge.  
Nutrient retention:  Louisiana Coastal wetlands lie at the base of the Mississippi river which drains 41% of the contiguous US and contains nutrient-laden runoff from 31 states.  Much of these nutrients are filtered out by the coastal wetland plants or are trapped in the sediment which settles out.  This nutrient-removal function is valued at $325/acre/year.  Due to channelization and levy construction, much of this function is lost resulting in the Mississippi being directed straight into the Gulf of Mexico.  The nutrient-rich runoff results in the formation of a huge hypoxic zone every summer. 
Freshwater supply:  Wetlands serve as important buffers against salt-water intrusion into groundwater and surface water supplies.  Many coastal communities have had to switch water sources due to salt-water intrusion as a results of coastal wetland loss. 
water tower
Primary productivity:  The marsh types present in the Lousiana coastal wetlands: salt marsh, tidal fresh water marsh, and fresh water marsh, are three of the most productive ecosystem types.  The salinity gradient present in the wetlands along with the climate and the nutrient rich source waters provides for a diverse community which maximizes the available resources.  Marshes produce approximately 25% more biomass per acre than the most productive forms of agriculture.

Wetland Formation
Animal Life
Plant Life
Ecosystem Function
Human Settlement
Human Interactions