Hey everyone! My name is Caitlin and I am mainly focusing on Tall Spartina Alterniflora (TSA) for the TIDE project. More specifically, I am looking at its growth in both the fertilized and the unfertilized creeks by cutting and collecting plants from two small plots, known as clip plots, at each of three set point, known as transects, along creeks each month. Each plot is taken from two set elevations at each transect, one lower and one higher, across all of the creeks in order to standardize the water coverage at each plot. Unfortunately, some of the creeks did not want to cooperate and finding plots with the right depth of water coverage and a large enough plot of TSA proved to be harder than it sounded. In order to determine depth of the water, we not only had to measure the distance from the high marsh to the mud in which the TSA was growing, but we also had to put out 108 tide sticks to measure the water level at high tide. These sticks were home made with Phragmites, an invasive reed we cut down in the backyard with a machete, and were pained with glue dyed with food coloring.
Despite a lot of rain, I was able to collect my first set of clip plots with help from all of the TIDE researchers here at Marshview during the last few days of June. Once I brought the samples back to the lab, I washed the mud off of each plant and out of the crevices of the leaves and then froze them. While this wash process is tedious, it insures that the mud will not get into any of the lab equipment while I take measurements. In the coming weeks, while I wait for the plants on the marsh to grow taller and for my next clip plot date in late July, I will be processing the plants here. In addition to looking at stem density, leaf counts and plant height, I will be taking leaf area measurements to gain further insight on the growth of the plants in each of the creeks.
When I am not working with the TSA, I am working on other portions of the TIDE project that have been introduced in previous posts. Some days I help Nate and David count and measure fish, others I go out with Marshall to work with salt pans. Yesterday I went out with Belle to take routine nutrient samples and to try to obtain larvae in Plankton nets. Today we collected mud cores to test for benthic chlorophyll levels for the month of July, then I helped Nate and David look at the gut contents of mummichogs. As for the rest of the summer, only the tide will tell.
Belle and Marshall taking nitrate levels in water samples from Sweeney salt pans.