ACE Basin Characterization Study: Species Gallery

The ACE Basin contains six distinct ecosystem habitat types that range from subtidal areas and vast wetlands to uplands. These habitats are characterized by more than 1500 different plant and animal species that interact with the physical environment to create the ACE Basin ecosystem.


The ACE Basin study area has an extremely rich bird life. Over half of the species of birds that occur in North America inhabit the 320,000 ha (790,000 ac) of the ACE Basin study area. There are about 8,600 species of birds in the world divided into 28 orders. Of these, approximately 280 species of birds in 17 orders occur in the ACE Basin study area. Many of these birds migrate in tremendous numbers to South Carolina from northern breeding grounds to spend their winters or to rest before continuing their migration to more southern areas. The ACE Basin is well known for its important bird breeding habitats, in particular bald eagles, least terns, and wood storks, three species listed as threatened or endangered by state or federal authorities.

An estimated 30 species of birds utilize the coastal marine subtidal habitat as feeding grounds. Eight of these species are common year-round residents and seven are common in winter.

The most serious conservation issue for birds of the ACE Basin study area is loss of habitat diversity. The loss of bird diversity would impact humans because of the wide range of ecological roles filled by birds. The insectivorous birds consume large quantities of insects each day. For example, the pine warbler forages for insects common to upland forests; the chimney swift feeds over the river, catching beetles, flies, and ants; while the ubiquitous Carolina wren feed on insects found in a variety of plant communities. The populations of nuisance animals (e.g., rodents and rabbits) are regulated by the raptor species such as hawks, eagles, and owls. Scavengers such as vultures and gulls play an important role in removal of dead animals from all habitats and the recycling of nutrients.