For the second year in a row, in 2014 the Great Bay Stewards generously supported a research intern to work on the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s long-term salt marsh bio-monitoring program. Brendan Newell, this year’s intern, graduated from Rutgers University with a B.S. in marine sciences. He is currently a M.S. candidate in the TIDES (Training for the Integration of Decisions with Ecosystem Science) program at University of New Hampshire. Brendan has previously worked in salt marshes in New Jersey and Louisiana and has enjoyed the opportunity to get to know some New Hampshire marshes too.
This summer Brendan worked with the Reserve’s Research Coordinator, Paul Stacey, and a team of volunteers to collect vegetation and salinity data in marshes around Great Bay. This work, building on data collect since 2010, is tracking changes in Great Bay salt marshes over time. These long term data are important because scientists expect that the region’s salt marshes will be threatened by climate change and sea level rise in the not-so-distant future. For more information on this project, see below on the work from last year’s intern, Mike Ressler.
In addition to the salt marsh bio-monitoring work, the support of the Stewards, in combination with support from other funding sources including New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, has allowed Brendan to assist with other bio-monitoring project and work with communities to enable them to improve their natural resource decision-making capacity. Specifically, he is working with Reserve staff to help plan a conference focused on shoreline management in New Hampshire and help communities use the Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model. He is also assisting with the development of Picking Our Battles, an invasive species management strategy for New Hampshire. Brendan hopes that this work will contribute to the protection on the beautiful Great Bay estuary and all the uses that it offers area residents!
With the generous support of the Great Bay Stewards to complement NH Fish & Game funding, the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve hired University of New Hampshire graduate Mike Ressler as the 2013 summer research intern. Mike worked on vegetation, water quality and SET (surface elevation tables) surveys. These surveys are charting changes in saltmarsh structure related to climate change, particularly sea level rise effects. As sea level rises, there are concerns that saltmarsh elevations will not be able to keep pace and the marshes will “drown” as exhibited by changes in vegetation, convert to other habitat such as mud tidal flats, or retreat into higher upland habitats if not blocked by human structures.
This internship supports these important and integral vegetation and water quality studies whose data over time could provide a detailed record of the condition and health of our salt-marshes, and help identify remedial actions to preserve the health of Great Bay. “It was a great opportunity in which I could expand my knowledge of saltmarsh ecosystems, and help promote an awareness of climate change and it’s affects on the Great Bay Estuary,” said Ressler.