Incremental Chemical Risks and Damages in Urban Estuaries: Spatial and Historical Ecosystem Analysis
Urbanized estuaries may be the most abused environments on Earth. After centuries of shoreline development, wetland “reclamation,” watershed alteration, physical disturbances from such activities as dredging, shipping, mosquito control, and garbage disposal, biotic communities have endured substantial habitat loss and degradation. For more than 150 years, urban waterways have been subjected to varying degrees of chemical pollution from industrial and municipal sources. Over
time, the habitats that support estuarine-dependent organisms in urban areas have decreased in size and become spatially fragmented. Water and sediment quality is so degraded (at least seasonally) in some urban systems that many organisms are excluded from portions of the estuary. Consequently, despite their adaptive flexibility, many estuarine-dependent organisms have been constrained to “patchy” use of the urban environment.