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January 13 , 2011

The Atchafalaya River Basin

History and Ecology of an American Wetland


In this comprehensive, one-volume reference, Nature Conservancy scientist Bryan P. Piazza poses five key questions:
—What is the Atchafalaya River Basin?
—Why is it important?
—How have its hydrology and natural habitats been managed?
—What is its current state?
—How do we ensure its survival?

For more than five centuries, the Atchafalaya River Basin has captured the flow of the Mississippi River, becoming its main distributary as it reaches the Gulf of Mexico in south Louisiana. This dynamic environment, comprising almost a million acres of the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley and Mississippi River Deltaic Plain, is perhaps best known for its expansive swamp environments dominated by baldcypress, water tupelo, and alligators. But the Atchafalaya River Basin contains a wide range of habitats and one of the highest levels of biodiversity on the North American continent.

Piazza has compiled and synthesized the body of scientific knowledge for the Atchafalaya River Basin, documenting the ecological state of the basin and providing a baseline of understanding. His research provides a crucial resource for future planning. He evaluates some common themes that have emerged from the research and identifies important scientific questions that remain unexplored.
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