Water Quality and Weather Monitoring
The System Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) tracks short-term variability and long-term changes in estuarine waters and climate to understand how human activities and natural events can change ecosystems. This provides valuable long-term data on water quality and weather at frequent time intervals.
In recent years concerns have risen about the sustainability of our local oyster populations. Multiple projects at the Reserve endeavor to understand the health of our oysters, and to discover how to maximize their ability to provide ecosystem services and a sustainable food course.
Salt Marsh Monitoring
Permanent vegetation plots are set throughout the Reserve to study the changes in plant species diversity and cover. Intertidal marshes are dominated by Spartina alterniflora (smooth cordgrass) and Juncus roemerianus (black needlerush), with Avicennia germinans (black mangrove) becoming more prevalent in recent decades. Sediment elevation tables (pictured left) are used to track minute changes in sediment elevation as marshes fight to keep pace with sea level rise.
Volunteers and GTM staff monitor plankton species composition and distribution in coastal and estuarine waters. The goal of this program is to detect harmful algal blooms, track changes in the bottom of the food web, and promote a sense of wonder in the world of plankton through citizen science. Check out our local plankton identification guide developed by volunteers!