Study Reviews Hurricane Sandy’s Impact on Tidal Marshes

Two months before Sandy hit the East Coast last October, a team of researchers finished a field work study “looking at bird populations at risk due to the loss of tidal marshes from sea-level rise. With that pre-storm data in hand, the researchers are now comparing the abundance of marsh plants and birds before and after Sandy in those same marshes, from Maine to Virginia.”

The delmarvanow.com article states,

Conclusions cannot be drawn yet, but it’s clear that Sandy devastated many marshes, said Brian Olsen, a University of Maine professor and a co-principal of the study, along with professors from the universities of Delaware and Connecticut and a biologist from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

“Some of the places we’ve gone to, they used to be tidal marshes and now they’re sand dunes or now they’re open water,” he said. “That’s kind of extreme, but there are places where the tidal marshes are gone.”

The project, funded by a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, will assess how well animal and plant populations in coastal marshes can weather change. The study specifically looks at whether the ability of certain plants and birds to withstand an extreme disturbance, such as a hurricane, is greater or less in marshes that are subjected to other stresses, such as sea level rise, development, pollution and invasive species.

The findings from the study should be available next year.  For the full article, visit delmarvanow.com.

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