The Coastal Bays and their watershed exhibit the highest diversity of habitats and living creatures in Maryland, as a consequence of being the only portion of the state possessing an ocean coast, while also possessing estuarine, non-tidal aquatic, and mainland habitats.
Some of these creatures depend on specific habitats within the watershed, such as amphibians that spawn in wetlands, while others use a wide range of habitats, like white-tailed deer browsing in forests and open fields. Similarly, some use the Coastal Bays for brief periods, such as migrating shorebirds or visiting dolphins and sea turtles, and others remain in the Coastal Bays for their entire lives, like schools of silversides residing in the shallows.
The creatures of the Coastal Bays, along with their habitats, make up ecosystems and are thus interdependent. As one species rises in abundance, another may decline. These dynamic relationships are responsive to various natural factors and anthropogenic stressors. Storms may disrupt the nesting habitat of neotropical songbirds, forcing them to adapt and find new nesting sites.
With human population growth, biodiversity tends to decrease as species that are tolerant to altered habitats (white-tailed deer, for example) or those species that humans introduce (such as the Assateague horses) increase their numbers. As change is inevitable in the Coastal Bays, researchers and resource managers
will continue to keep track of and preserve this crucial biodiversity.
Click here for more information on wildlife diversity in the Coastal Bays.