April 7, 2024

Assateague Island - Life of the Forest Trail

Assateague Island - Life of the Forest Trail

Since 2024

In Maryland, US


This chronolog combines 63 photos from 60 contributors. Learn more

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Thank you for visiting Assateague Island National Seashore and for participating in our Chronolog Citizen Science Project. The Life of the Forest trail provides easy access into one of Assateague Island’s most diverse and extensive habitats. Maritime forests and shrublands occupy the middle and western portions of this barrier island and are dominated by evergreen trees such as loblolly pine, American holly, and red cedar. Wax myrtle and groundsel shrubs thrive beneath the tree canopy and create dense thickets that provide excellent habitat for wildlife. Common forest inhabitants include migratory songbirds such as warblers and vireos, as well as white-tailed deer, non-native Sika deer, and an abundance of insects. A variety of wildlife, including the famous wild horses, find food and fresh drinking water in this habitat, and seek protection here from the harsh barrier island conditions.   

As climate changes, maritime forest habitats along Assateague Island are particularly sensitive to saltwater intrusion into the ground water table. Because of the porous sandy soils, rising sea levels will increase the salinity within the root zone to the point where woody plants and trees become stressed and cannot survive. You may notice large expanses of standing dead trees also known as ghost forests. Over time, the adjacent saltmarsh habitat will likely migrate into these ghost forests. These changes are not easily noticed during just one visit to Assateague Island, but photographs over time tell the story. Your photograph taken at this location will help document the slow, but steady impact of sea level rise on the habitats of Assateague Island National Seashore.  

About Assateague Island National Seashore



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