Colorado mountains

Plum Island Ecosystems LTER

Poster Number: 
Presenter/Primary Author: 
Anne Giblin
Jennifer Bowen, Robert Buchsbaum, Linda Deegan, Sergio Fagherzzi, Charles Hopkinson, David Johnson, Martha Mather, James Morris, Christopher Neill, Gil Pontius, Colin Polsky, Peter Raymond, Joseph Vallino, Nathanial Weston, Wil Wollheim

The Plum Island Ecosystems LTER (PIE) in an integrated research, education and outreach program whose goal is to develop a predictive understanding of the long term response of watershed and estuarine ecosystems at the land-sea interface to changes in three key drivers: climate, sea level and human activities.  Our principal study site is the Plum Island Sound estuary and its watersheds, located in eastern Massachusetts north of Boston and is the site of the largest salt marsh estuary in New England.  To understand how external drivers, ecosystem dynamics, and human activities interact to shape ecological processes in a mosaic of coastal landscapes and estuarine seascapes we carry out long term monitoring, perform manipulative experiments and have a strong modeling component.  Understanding how landscapes and seascapes evolve and change, and how those changes control ecosystem processes, is both a fundamental science question and a critical management question.  Over the last cycle new activities have begun that examine spatial arrangements and connectivity focusing on two themes: 1) What controls the spatial arrangements and connectivity between ecological habitat patches in the coastal zone?and 2) How do the spatial arrangement and the connectivity between ecological habitat patches in coastal watersheds and the estuarine seascape influence ecological processes?

Many of our hypotheses as to the importance of geomorphic change to ecosystems processes have come from our observations that spatial arrangements and their connections at PIE are rapidly changing, on the time scale of decades as illustrated on this poster. Further, we continue to expand efforts to understand how management decisions are influenced by both geomorphic and ecosystem changes. These interactions and feedbacks are important drivers of change at PIE and as a consequence we have increasingly integrated human activities within the PIE conceptual framework.

Background Photo by: Nicole Hansen - Jornada (JRN) LTER