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Science News from Great Bay
Anyone who has participated in fieldwork has learned the valuable lesson: expect the unexpected. Even when you’ve prepared for every “what if” scenario, something will inevitably happen where you need to think quickly on your feet; whether that is pushing a boat across a mudflat to chase the outgoing tide, saving a boat from sinking using the shirts off your back, showing up to your first day of fieldwork with everything but a writing utensil, or finding make-shift tools in the field.
Many people recognize the firey hue glasswort brings to a salt marsh as it turns red in the fall. Even from a distance, those with a discerning eye can pick out the bands of low marsh that fringe the water’s edge. Real connoisseurs of drive-by marsh plant identification can even pick out the dusty grey-green of spike grass (Distichlis spicata) interwoven with the backdrop of salt marsh hay (Spartina patens), but why do these plants grow in the places they do?
With sea level and storm activities on the rise, researchers at UNH are looking into the best way to protect our coastal salt marshes. Working in collaboration with Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, researchers are able to implement different techniques to prevent salt marsh erosion due to sea level rise. This post is the second of two, highlighting graduate students working on salt marsh resiliency.
When healthy, sea grasses form dense underwater meadows that provide many benefits to bay organisms and us, including producing great quantities of oxygen that many marine creatures need to thrive, provide excellent physical habitat for young fish and shellfish, improves water quality by absorbing excess nutrients, and increases water clarity by filtering sediments.