Bethany Williams, an undergraduate at Florida State University and an intern with previous NECSC Fellow David Johnson, won best Undergraduate Oral Presentation at the recent New England Estuarine Research Society meeting in Connecticut.
Her talk was titled, “Melampus bidentatus as a model for the effects of climate change on salt marsh animal communities” and focused on how animal communities in northeastern salt marshes will be affected by sea-level rise (in the Northeast Hot Spot for sea-level rise) which will also shift plant communities. One prediction for rising sea in salt marshes in the northeast is the displacement of the high-marsh grass, Spartina patens by the flood-tolerant S. alterniflora. Williams’ has found that S. patens may be an important nursery habitat for the abundant coffee-bean snail, Melampus bidentatus by protecting the snail from desiccation. As this habitat is lost with sea-level rise, the population may also suffer. A similar effect of sea-level rise on the salt marsh sparrow has been previously suggested. Bethany’s work is the first to demonstrate climate change effects on these animal communities. She is currently completing her thesis on her summer research.
Photo credit: Coffee Bean Snail (Melampus Bidentatus) in a pathway in Rowley, MA (David Johnson)
—> Read more on David’s blog: http://manayunkia.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/and-the-winner-is/