The Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research (GCE-LTER) site is located on the central Georgia coast of the Southeastern United States. The primary study area encompasses the estuaries, sounds and marsh complexes surrounding Sapelo Island. The GCE study area is bounded on the east by the Atlantic Ocean (South Atlantic Bight). The upland-estuarine interface consists of the riverine estuary of the Altamaha River, the lagoonal estuaries bordering the mainland and Sapelo Island, and the tidal marsh complexes fringing small hammocks distributed throughout the coastal area. The salinity regimes of these estuaries vary extensively due to the interactions of river discharge, ground-water delivery and oceanic tides. The ecology of the GCE site is typical of the Carolinian biogeographic province, which is characterized by vast expanses of tidal salt marshes protected by a buffer of barrier islands. The principal biome type is coastal barrier island/marsh complex, and the main types of communities under study are salt marsh, estuary, intertidal sediment, surficial aquifer, oceanic sound, and oyster reef.