Latest Lab Activities
- The Wetlands Lab was awarded a $274,860 grant from the National Science Foundation as part of the Georgia Coastal Ecosystem Long Term Ecological Research (GCE LTER) program. The GCE LTER consists of scientists from seven universities throughout the US who study coastal wetlands and estuaries and the people who rely on them for their ecosystem services, including fisheries, storm protection, water quality and recreation. Funding from the six-year grant will support monitoring recovery following saltwater intrusion in the SALTEx (Seawater Addition Long Term Experiment) plots.
- "Elena Solohin, a PhD Student in Wetlands Lab, received the Indiana Space Grant Consortium and NASA 2018-19 Fellowship. The one-year, $12,000 award will use remotely sensed (satellite) data to assess tidal wetland vulnerability to future sea level rise along the SE U.S. coast, including sites located in the GCE LTER study area, mainly the Altamaha river estuary. The research will provide educational opportunities and learning experience to students in STEM related disciplines, and will lead to a clearer understanding of human impacts on coastal wetlands."
Carson Hoogewerf, an undergraduate student in the Wetlands lab, presented a poster in the 18th Association of SPEA Ph.D Students Conference on February 16, 2018. Carson has been studying different forms of phosphorus in the soil as part of the Seawater Addition Long-Term Experiment (SALTEx). The other members of the lab came out to support him and he ended up winning the best poster prize! Congratulations to Carson on a job well done.
On September 11 2017, Hurricance Irma visited Sapelo Island with the largest storm surge recorded in more than 100 years and inundated parts of the island. Buildings of the University of Georgia Marine Institute were flooded, necessitating its closure for about 1 month and requiring extensive restoration of saltwater damage that continues to this day. Our Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research project received a RAPID grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the effects of the storm surge on tidal marshes and forests of our study site. The storm surge also took out about 10 m (33 ft) of frontal dunes, damaging the picnic shelter at Nannygoat Beach.
The Wetlands Lab started the 2017 summer field season with a trip to the Edisto River in coastal South Carolina. Elena, Sarah and Dontrece joined Dr. Craft for a week of marsh field work to collect soil cores, above- and belowground biomass, and measure marsh elevation. The field work is part of the Wetland Accretion and Sediment Supply project. The goal of this project is to determine how changes in sediment supply influences sediment accretion rates in coastal wetlands, and to project future wetland vulnerability along the East Coast under various scenarios of sea level rise and sediment supply.
In addition to conducting field work, the lab took a field trip to the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area in Green Pond SC to view birds including Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea ajaja), Green Herons (Butorides virescens), and Little Blue Herons (Egretta caerulea). The WMA is a great spot for seeing wild alligators. We counted more than 30 sets of beady alligator eyes sticking out of the pond. The Donnelley WMA is owned and managed by the SC Department of Natural Resources and, if you like birds and alligators, it is worth a visit if you are ever in the area!
The Wetlands Lab would like to thank Dr. Al Segars for providing logistical support at the ACE Basin NERR field station and Rick Weatherford for taking us out on his boat!
Chris Craft of the Wetlands Lab visited East China Normal University (Shanghai) from May 10-25 to teach an intensive course entitled Advanced Estuarine and Coastal Sciences. More than 25 MS and PhD students majoring in ecology, environmental science, marine chemistry, and geology enrolled in the two week-long class that focused on coastal wetlands.
Spring (2017) has come to “Behavior” cemetery on Sapelo Island where the folks from Hog Hammock, probably the last remaining Gullah-Geechee community left, are laid to rest. They are the direct descendants of west African slaves brought over to work the rice plantations and cotton fields before the civil war.
While conducting field work in southern Georgia, the lab ran into president-elect Donald Trump at Two Way Fish Camp! Lab manager Sarah was even able to get a picture with him! He said the loss of coastal wetlands is SAD but “We’re going to make wetlands great again.
Hurricane Matthew skirted the coast of Georgia the evening of October 7, 2016. Winds gusted up to 60 mph and the storm dumped almost 12 inches of rain over the course of 4 days. Fortunately there was minimal damage on the island, with no flooding and very little damage to structures. Downed trees were quickly removed from the main roadways and power was restored to the island within a week. While there was little damage to research and building infrastructure, the island experienced high water, abundant outwelling of Spartina detritus and a number of downed trees.
The Wetlands Lab continued working on the NSF sediment project in June, this time collecting soil cores in salt marshes on the Cape Fear River near Southport, NC. In addition to conducting field work, the lab took a field trip to the Green Swamp Preserve in Southeastern NC to view carnivorous plants including Venus fly traps (Dionaea muscipula), pitcher plants (Sarracenia spp.), and sundews (Drosera spp.). The Green Swamp Preserve is owned by the Nature Conservancy and is worth a visit if you are ever in the area!
The Wetlands Lab started off the 2016 summer field season with a trip to the Altamaha River in coastal Georgia. Elena, Sarah and Crystal joined Dr. Craft for a week of marsh field work to collect 1 m soil cores and measure marsh elevation. The field work is part of the NSF sediment project. The goal of this project is to determine how changes in sediment supply influences sediment accretion rates in coastal wetlands, and to project future wetland vulnerability along the East Coast under various scenarios of sea level rise and sediment supply.
The lab took a trip to Georgia in May to set up a decomposition experiment as part of the Seawater Addition Long-Term Experiment (SALTEx). We placed Zizaniopsis miliacea (giant cutgrass) root samples in mesh bags and buried four in each plot. One set of root bags will be retrieved every 3 months over the next year to provide a picture of how the below-ground decomposition rate varies according to treatment. See our “Current Projects” page for more information about SALTEx.