The Leslie Lab also is employing ecological theory and experimental manipulations to investigate climate change effects on salt marshes. Brown-MBL PhD student Sarah Corman is leading our core project, which focuses on how the timing and magnitude of biomass production and flowering in the foundational salt marsh species, Spartina alterniflora, vary with latitude (as a proxy for changing temperatures).
Through a series of reciprocal transplants from Massachusetts to South Carolina and a common garden experiment at Brown University, Sarah – in collaboration with her advisors Prof. Heather Leslie of Brown and Dr. Linda Deegan of MBL – has established that this plant’s allocation of above vs. belowground growth is fairly plastic. That is, plants moved to the north begin to resemble northern plants, and vice versa (Corman et al., in prep.).
This and related ongoing salt marsh studies will enable us to improve on existing models of how marshes will respond to sea level rise and other climate change impacts. Additional collaborators on the project include Mark Bertness of Brown University and Angus Angermeyer of Brown and MBL. For more information, please contact Sarah_Corman(at)brown.edu.