The National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) consists of an integrated network of 26 reserve sites in 15 biogeographical regions. Covering more than 500,000 ha of estuarine, wetland, and upland habitats, these reserves are protected areas that have been established for research and long-term monitoring programs. Data collected by these programs are used to characterize the natural and anthropogenic processes governing stability and change in the reserves. They help to define baseline conditions and trends in physical, chemical, and biological parameters vital for assessing future changes in the NERR system of estuaries. Some of these changes might be coupled to anthropogenic stressors that must be addressed by coastal decision makers. The ultimate goal is to forge greater understanding of how the reserve estuaries function and change over time and to contribute to more effective coastal zone management through sound research and monitoring...

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