Informing a Holistic Socio-Ecological Restoration and Monitoring Plan Through an Understanding of the Long-Term Patterns of Change and Use of Tidal Marshes in Northern Mission Bay, San Diego, California

Project Number
Project Date Range
Funding Agency
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Focus Area(s)
Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies




The goal of this project is to improve our understanding of long-term changes in the wetland landscape, plant communities and ethnobotanical uses to inform restoration and management of Northern Mission Bay in San Diego, California. 



Wetland resilience to climate change, including sea level rise and increased sea surface temperatures, is influenced by the community structure and function of wetland plants. Understanding the historical changes in wetlands, as well as the role of plants and their resilience to climate change, is essential for accurate predictions and the development of effective management and restoration strategies — including the implementation of land use or water management practices, restoring degraded wetland habitat or hydrology, and promoting sustainable use of wetland resources and cultural practices. 

This study will use a combination of methods to document changes in the wetland landscape, plant communities, and ethnobotanical uses of salt marsh in northern Mission Bay in San Diego, California. The research approach includes using current and historical aerial photos and maps, as well as current plant data and accounts from published and gray literature documents to assess mid- and long-term changes in Northern Mission Bay’s wetland landscape.

Researchers will analyze long-term changes in landscape and plant community structure of the entire wetland, including creeks, salt pannes, and vegetation zones over decades. Findings will be shared with representatives from local environmental agencies, conservation organizations and community groups, including Indigenous communities with unique knowledge and connections to the local environment, underserved and underrepresented communities residing in the vicinity of Northern Mission Bay; and endangered bird and plant species dependent on the wetland ecosystem for habitat and survival. This work will provide new insights into the long-term changes and trends in the Northern Mission Bay wetland landscape and will contribute to the understanding of Southern California wetlands by mapping historical trends and identifying changes in features. 

Community Mentors: Theresa Talley (California Sea Grant), Andrew Meyer (San Diego Audubon Society), Kellie Uyeda (Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve), Heather Henter (UC San Diego Natural Reserve System)


Principal Investigators
Drew Talley
University of San Diego (USD)
Co-principal Investigators
Carrie Shuster
University of San Diego (USD)