Two undergraduate botanists kick off the field season with Spartina measurements

Hello TIDE enthusiasts! We, Caitlin and Frankie, are excited to be writing the first blog post of the field season. We are rising seniors at Bryn Mawr College. While Caitlin is a seasoned marsh expeditionist returning for her third summer, Frankie is excited to start her first summer here at TIDE. The marsh has been treating us well these first few weeks, and has welcomed us with a mixture of cold/rainy and hot/sunny days.

REUs' first day

Not even cold and rainy weather can keep the REUs away from tank fills at Sweeney Creek

This summer, we will both continue to work with the plants that inhabit the Plum Island Marsh here at TIDE. Our focus is to compare the phenology of Tall Form Spartina alterniflora (TSA) to genetic analysis conducted last year. We will continue to take clip plots of the five main marsh plants, TSA, Short Form Spartina alterniflora (SSA), Distichlis spicata (DS), and Spartina patens (SP) in order to determine changes in plant morphology and density between the fertilized and unfertilized creeks. We will also measure gas fluxes, including methane, CO2 and water vapor, to investigate differences in plant physiology across the long term fertilized Sweeney Creek and the unfertilized West Creek.

During our short time here, we have also had the opportunity to assist with other projects, as well as attend and present a poster at the New England Botanical Society’s 120th anniversary conference. We had a great time there and were excited to be able to visit another one of the Seven Sister’s, Smith College, who hosted the conference. We look forward to collaborate with the other REUs and further develop our understanding of essential marsh systems. Flume Netting is the next big project coming up this week, and we have begun to move the nets to more appropriate locations on the marsh.

Caitlin and Frankie measuring tall form Spartina alterniflora

Caitlin and Frankie measure TSA in their flux collars at Sweeney Creek. Height measurements will be taken twice each month in all of the collars at both Sweeney and West.

Flux collar set up

Setting up the light flux chambers for measurement at Sweeney Creek


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