Broad-scale human adaptation to climate change has become increasingly necessary. It is critical that during this period of historically unprecedented ecological change, meaningful linkages across scientific and decision making arenas are developed to anticipate climate-related ecosystem changes and invest strategically to increase socio-ecological resilience.
I’m interested on marsh/wetland interactions with climate and humans. In essence, 3 questions drive my research. (1) Where’s the challenge on watching plants grow? (2) What’s so special about coastal wetlands? And, (3) how the future of our coasts going to look like and why do we care? Before answering these questions, I’ll add that any of them can be focused using different lenses (where “lens” is scale: temporal, spatial and complexity). So I guess the answer depends on the glasses we look through.
Where’s the challenge on watching grass grow?
The large majority of marshes are monocotyledons and are found in temperate latitudes. For example, for salt marsh the most common genus is Spartina sp. a “true” grass (Family: Poaceae). This also applies to brackish and freshwater marshes, all dominated by communities of grasses. Plant biomass and productivity result from photosynthesis and its interaction of environmental drivers (light, nutrients, water availability). Our world is presenting rapid changes on these and other environmental drivers and we don’t know if and how these plants will cope. The challenge: “to understand and then predict how plants will respond to these changes”. For answers to this question, we use a combination of field experiments using nutrient manipulations, lab work to measure carbon content and computational analyzes to examine grow trends and potential declines.