A habitat is the natural environment in which an organism or biological population lives or grows. The Sound’s coastal habitats—including tidal wetlands, eelgrass beds, and forests—support diverse species of plants and wildlife, ranging from microscopic plants that drift with the currents to economically important finfish to rare birds that nest along the shore.
Habitats are important for many reasons. Wetlands, for example, provide much more than a scenic vista. The shallow vegetated meadows characteristic of tidal wetlands absorb and slow the flood waters of storms and high tides. The plants of the low marsh provide food and shelter to juvenile finfish, crabs and shellfish. Some of the marine life found in wetlands is enjoyed on our dinner plates, while others serve as food for popular recreational fish. The plants of the high marsh provide food and shelter for many species of coastal birds and mammals. When looking at other habitats, such as forests, many of us recognize the common wildlife species, including squirrels, raccoon, owls and deer. Most of us don’t realize, however, that each of these animals has different requirements for food and shelter, utilizing different parts of the forest and each needing a different sized parcel to maximize survival.
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