The effects of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation on plant and bird communities in coastal marshes from Maine to Virginia are the focus of a 10-state study by researchers from the University of Maine, University of Connecticut, University of Delaware and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Information gathered from more than 1,700 sites before and after the October 2012 hurricane will advance researchers’ understanding of how major disturbances affect these populations and what characteristics make a marsh more vulnerable. The data will also provide information on the allocation of millions of dollars of federal restoration funds, coastal management planning and the status of species at risk of endangerment. The yearlong study was awarded nearly $200,000 from the National Science Foundation and is part of the Saltmarsh Habitat and Avian Research Program, which was founded by a group of academic, governmental and nonprofit collaborators — including UMaine — to provide tidal-marsh bird conservation information. Brian Olsen, assistant professor in UMaine’s School of Biology and Ecology, is a co-principal investigator of the study. Maureen Correll, an ecology and environmental Ph.D. student in Olsen’s lab, is working on the project as part of her dissertation. Two additional student researchers from UMaine are expected to participate in the study.
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Image Description: B.J. Olsen