Julia Grissett: Disturbance Scape is an interdisciplinary collaborative study led by the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research (GCE-LTER) station based on Sapelo Island, Georgia. The objectives of this study are to (1) identify naturally occurring disturbances in a Spartina salt marsh using captured drone imagery, (2) quantify the response and recovery rate of the Spartina marsh to those disturbances, (3) determine a “disturbance effect” that integrates the magnitude of change and the recovery trajectory to approximate the total effect of the disturbance on the marsh as a whole.
A suite of ecological response variables is used to understand the variability in the resistance of the marsh to disturbance. Gradients of disturbed area size, disturbance timing or season, elevation of the disturbed area, and salinity are employed to determine their impact on the salt marsh’s response to disturbance. The study will investigate many types of natural disturbances in a salt marsh (wrack deposition, creekbank slumping, headward eroding creeks, etc.); however, the current focus of the project is on wrack deposition and the subsequent dieback of spartina.
The Angelini lab’s current role in this study involves many facets of the field components and assessments of the Spartina marsh of focus on Sapelo Island. Through the collaboration with many collaborators on the project, suitable disturbed marsh areas are selected by analyzing drone imagery and comparing it to on-the-ground conditions with site visits. Once the most suitable wrack patches and their resulting disturbed areas are selected, field monitoring of ecological response variables is conducted in part by our team. The data collected through this field monitoring is presently being analyzed to quantify the magnitude of ecological change and the recovery rate of the marsh in response to the chosen wrack disturbances.
Lab members engaged in the work: Julie Grissett, Sydney Williams, Hallie Fischman
GCE-LTER Network Collaborators: Merryl Alber, Steven Pennings, Christine Angelini, Jeb Byers, Clark Alexander, John Schalles, Amanda Spivak, & Christine Hladik
GCE-LTER Staff: Jacob Schalak & Dontrece Smith
Graduate Students and Post-doctorates: Tyler Lynn, Gabriella Giordo, Deepak Mishra & Emlyn Resetarits
Julie Grissett monitoring salt marsh for recovery
Quadrat in which the disturbed marsh is monitored for its response and recovery to the natural perturbation