Students gathered at a saltmarsh site in Massachusetts, taking a break from their regular school day routine to remove invasive perennial pepperweed plants from among the bushes and marsh grasses. Part of a suite of programs and teacher workshops aimed at educating local students and adults about marsh ecosystems, this field trip pairs ecological research with real restoration projects.
We stopped at the edge of the river, and Kelsey hopped out with a water quality data sensor to take readings of salinity, temperature, oxygen. Brown water churned around him as he walked slowly across the muddy bottom, silt billowing in the creek channel like clouds of smoke. The data logger is part of a network of such sensors, each taking readings from different parts of the marsh ecosystem.
Kelsey piloted the boat up a smaller creek, stopping in front of a wooden-plank boardwalk leading to a tall eddy covariance flux tower. The tower comprises a series of instruments that take regular measurements that provide a comprehensive picture of carbon dioxide exchange, evaporation, and energy exchange in the coastal marsh. Put simply, the flux towers record the very breathing of the marsh ecosystem.
Parking under a bridge, I walked down a short dirt road to the cutgrass (Zizaniopsis miliacea) marsh. The bright green stalks waved overhead, completely immersing me as I stepped onto a narrow boardwalk that provides access to the gridded plots. The air was hot and humid, t-shirts and shorts sticking to arms and legs as students and researchers moved amid the marsh.
Every month, Field Technician Tim Montgomery loads his equipment onto a center console motorboat and heads off into the marshes surrounding Sapelo Island, Georgia. Over the course of several hours, he stops at multiple sites to check on the Georgia Coastal Ecosystem LTER network of data loggers continually collecting water quality parameters as they gently bob in the water. On one particular morning, I had the opportunity to go with him.
June 13, 2018 LTER Network News is a forum for sharing news and activities from across the LTER Network. This is our water cooler. If you have personnel changes, new grants, cross-Network activities that might interest your LTER colleagues, please send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org. 2018 LTER All Scientists’ Meeting Next Generation Synthesis: Successes and… Read more »
The connections between humans and oceans run deep. Kelp forests, plankton, estuaries, and coral reefs support robust and diverse food webs, feeding both body and spirit. The destructive effects of big storms are tempered by marshes and mangroves—sometimes to their benefit and sometimes their detriment. Currents, migrations, climate, and nutrients connect ecosystems and the… Read more »
Relying on a 114 year-long data set, researchers from the Sevilleta LTER have developed a more accurate way to model climate sensitivity functions that describe the relationship between ecological variability and plant productivity, rather than focusing on linear relationships between ecosystem response and average climate trends, as is more typical. While variances in factors such as… Read more »
Hurricanes are typically considered destructive and disastrous, with high-speed winds exceeding 75 miles per hour and torrential downpours. These powerful storms can have major impacts on tropical forests, ripping open the forest canopy and causing organic debris to pile up on the forest floor. Despite these seemingly destructive qualities, new research suggests that ecological disturbance… Read more »
Kelp forests have long been known to harbor a high number and diversity of marine species, from tiny crustaceans to large fish and marine mammals. This biodiversity tends to be attributed to the complex structure and productivity of giant kelp, earning it the title ‘foundational species’. Surprisingly, however, little quantitative data has been assessed to… Read more »