Biological Sciences: Marine Biology - MS
Research Topic: Fresh & Estuarine Wetland Ecology, Restoration Ecology
Research Description: My overarching goal in my graduate studies is to monitor both short and long-term trajectories of restoration projects of freshwater wetlands and salt marshes in New Hampshire. The first part of my thesis is monitoring both ecosystem structure (vegetation, macroinvertebrates, nekton, and porewater chemistry) and ecosystem function (erosion control, decomposition, and soil organic matter development) at three salt marsh restoration sites on the Great Bay. Living Shorelines, the salt marsh restoration technique, is relatively new and multi-metric studies of the restoration technique are few in the literature. Understanding the development of different ecosystem structures and functions within the first five years of Living Shorelines can influence future project expectations, designs, and adaptive management strategies. The second part of my thesis focuses on long-term dynamics of the vegetation community at a 35-year-old freshwater wetland creation project. The trajectory of vegetation communities have been shown to be site specific in many cases despite two general patterns. Floristic surveys were completed in the 7th and 17th growing seasons of the wetland, allowing us, in the 35th year, to detect possible long-term patterns in the vegetation community including species composition, richness, life history traits, and species turnover rates. At the end of the day, monitoring restoration projects in the short-term and long-term, and especially the vegetation community as the backbone of these habitats, can establish baseline expectations and trends as well as influence future project designs and adaptive management strategies.