Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hurricane impacts in brackish marshes and other questions

The restoration site at Port Arthur survived Hurricane Ike fairly intact. There wasn't much debris, and by the time we returned to the site, water levels had returned to normal. Salinity was high, though, about 15 ppt, when the site is normally about 3-5 ppt. Some species of plants looked fine, but others were stressed. Interestingly, some stands of Spartina alterniflora seemed fine, but others were dying. Is this a difference between native and non-native strains? Or is it a function of plant age?
Planting stands of Spartina alterniflora in this restored site results in robust monocultures of S. alterniflora. See the new species (an aster?) trying to recruit into the Spartina stand? Will it be able to establish in this dense stand? Does planting S. alterniflora limit plant diversity on a longer time scale?
One day, soon after the storm, I visited the salt marshes on Galveston's east end. I was stunned at the number of snails (Littorina) that were clinging onto the grass. It is not unusual for Littorina to climb up Spartina stems during high tide, but the density of snails at this site surprised me. Were they trying to get away from something?

More Hurricane Ike views: This house is "For sale by owner"
Boats on Sportsman Road
This just in: Plastic grows on trees