The Kendall-Frost Mission Bay Marsh Reserve protects a valuable remnant of coastal salt marsh habitats once common throughout Southern California estuaries. Despite major alterations to the surrounding land and water, this small, heart-shaped wetland at the northern edge of Mission Bay remains remarkably productive, providing rich intertidal habitats. Topography ranges from high marsh to submerged shoreline, creating a classic vertical zonation of habitats, each with its own spectrum of vegetation and invertebrates.
Habitats within the site include coastal salt marsh, tidal channels, and salt flats; the adjacent Northern Wildlife Preserve contains mudflats, a sand spit, eelgrass beds, and the open waters of Mission Bay. Thousands of shorebirds visit the marsh and mudflats during annual migrations; at least two endangered bird species, the light-footed clapper rail and Belding’s savannah sparrow, rely entirely on the marsh.
Transplantation of marsh plants including pickleweeds; eradication of invasive mangroves; studies of erosion, sediment, and other factors degrading marsh habitats.
Student Volunteer Program
Students with special needs (learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and hearing impairments) from nearby Mission Bay High School restore and map the marsh, develop public outreach materials, and host events.
Interpretive kiosk depicts bird migrations with captions in English and Spanish; bird-watching events.
- The leptostraca* of coastal California: A survey based on morphological and molecular evidence. [*a marine order of the class malacostraca, which is a subclass of the subphyllum crustacea]
- The effect of different reproductive strategies on the genetic variation of eastern Pacific eelgrass taxa.
- Final hosts (birds and mammals) as determinants of community structure of castrating trematodes in California horn snails.
San Diego County, on the northern edge of Mission Bay; 11 km (7 mi.) south of UC San Diego.
Observation deck; trailer with utilities (electricity, internet, hot and cold running water), lab bench, office, living area; overnight accommodations for up to four people.
The reserve bibliography includes citations of journal articles, books, theses, art, and other works published about or based on activities conducted at the reserve.
Plant and bird species lists; bibliography of on-site research, including reserve-based publications since 1995; aerial photos; census of endangered species; geographic information system (GIS) available for research, teaching, and management use.
Academic coordinator on campus; no personnel on site.
8 hectares (21 acres) plus use of the contiguous city-owned portion (40 acres total)
-0.6 m to 3.0 m (-2 to +10 ft.)
31 cm (12.3 in.) per year
13.2 – 19.6 ºC (55.8 – 67.3 ºF)
Mean: 16.4 ºC (61.6ºF)
January minimum: 9 ºC (47 ºF)
August maximum: 23 ºC (73 ºF)