Physiological Ecology of Salt Marsh Plants

Coastal salt marshes are highly productive ecosystems dominated by halotolerant vascular plants.  Marshes provide a variety of ecosystem services;  they reduce coastal erosion and flooding, filter nutrients from the water column and sediment, and provide nursery habitat to numerous fish and invertebrates.  Anthropogenic nutrient enrichment, rising sea level, and rising global temperatures have the potential to alter the community stucture and function of salt marshes around the globe.

In this study, we are examing the physiological resonse of the smooth cordgrass,  Spartina alterniflora, to increased nutrient availablity. S. alterniflora is a key ecosystem engineer in salt marshes and is one of the most dominant species in salt marshes along the North Atlantic coast.  The work is being done in collaboration with researchers at the Ecosystem Center at the Marine Biology Laboratory, Woods Hole MA as part of the NSF funded TIDE project.