Edgartown Great Pond Partners with MBL | The Martha's Vineyard Times

February 22nd, 2021 @
By Brian DowdEdgartown Great Pond Partners with MBL | The Martha's Vineyard Times

The Edgartown Great Pond Foundation (GPF) is teaming up with the Woods Hole-based Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) to support the foundation’s ecosystem monitoring program at Chilmark Pond, Edgartown Great Pond, and Tisbury Great Pond.

The scientific partnership will enhance the foundation’s existing programs on Edgartown Great Pond and its collaboration with the Chilmark Pond Foundation, as well as bolster a scientific alliance between GPF and Tisbury Great Pond stakeholders.

The Island’s three ponds are vital ecological resources, especially for shellfishing.

The foundation’s staff will monitor the three Island ponds on a weekly basis from May through October. Programs will include water quality monitoring, cyanobacteria monitoring, pond elevation and opening dynamics, submerged aquatic vegetation monitoring, biodiversity monitoring, and watershed nutrient loading

Founded in 1888, MBL is a scientific institution and pioneer in the study of coastal ecosystems. MBL Ecosystems Center Director and Senior Scientist Dr. Anne Giblin, an expert in nutrient cycling in wetland ecosystems, and Research Scientist Dr. Javier Lloret, an expert in the interactions between human activities and their impacts on coastal ecosystems, along with their team, will lead efforts to assess nutrient loading in three Island Great Ponds. Read more …

Source: Edgartown Great Pond partners with MBL – The Martha’s Vineyard Times

Wetlands and the MBL | The Well

February 1st, 2021 @

February 2 is World Wetlands Day—a day to raise awareness about the role wetlands play in the health of ecosystems around the world. At the Marine Biological Laboratory, scientists at our Ecosystems Center have been studying these vital ecosystems for more than 40 years.

This year’s World Wetlands Day theme, Wetlands and Water, highlights the value of freshwater wetlands as people around the globe face a freshwater crisis. Humans use more freshwater than nature can replenish and, at the same time, are systematically destroying freshwater wetland ecosystems.

“Wetlands are productive and vital ecosystems that enhance water quality, store carbon, maintain surface water flows, and can help control stream erosion,” said Anne Giblin, director of the MBL Ecosystems Center. “Freshwater wetlands are biologically diverse and support a large number of threatened and endangered species. Unfortunately, for centuries these areas were not valued and wetlands were filled and swamps were drained to ‘reclaim’ land.”

Marshes—both freshwater and saltwater—act as nurseries to a number of vital species and aid in the reduction of storm surge. They reduce nitrogen loads from land, helping to alleviate coastal eutrophication. With atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rising, wetland ecosystems, which store more carbon per area than almost any other ecosystem on earth, are more vital than ever.

Originally posted in The Well.

Not All Nitrogen is Created Equal: A Long-Term Study from a New England Salt Marsh | The Well

December 11th, 2020 @

In a study published this week, scientists including MBL Ecosystems Center Director Anne Giblin reveal that different forms of nitrogen have different impacts on a salt marsh ecosystem. The study, conducted at the Plum Island Ecosystem LTER, argues that both the form and quantity of nitrogen influx to the coasts, and how these different forms of nitrogen mediate the balance between marsh carbon storage and loss, will be crucial for managing coastal wetlands as sea levels continue to rise. This article is provided by Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center.

On the cover of this month’s issue of BioScience, the tranquil scene of an evening in the tidal marsh belies the complex biological interplay of nutrients and organisms found within. The impacts and mechanisms of nutrient enrichment in this coastal zone, particularly of nitrogen introduced by human activity, are well documented in literature — but a new study in December’s BioScience suggests that understanding the forms of nitrogen in the system is a missing piece of the coastal management puzzle.

The study, led by Dr. Jennifer Bowen, Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Northeastern’s Marine and Environmental Sciences Department, synthesizes a decade of research from her team and collaborators, focused on understanding human impacts on the structure and function of salt marsh systems. Dr. Bowen has long used the living labs of the Boston area coasts to examine how urban ecosystems and microbial communities influence biogeochemical cycling. Her latest work examines nitrogen forms and flows in the TIDE project, a long-term nutrient enrichment experiment led by co-author Linda Deegan of the Woodwell Climate Research Center that is based at the NSF supported Plum Island Long-Term Ecological Research site in northern Massachusetts. Co-author Anne Giblin of the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, is lead principal investigator of the Plum Island research site. Read more …

Photo: Cordgrass in a salt marsh at the Plum Island research site. Credit: David Johnson @DavidSamJohnson

Cover photo: Jennifer Bowen of Northeastern University.

Source: Understanding Nitrogen’s Impact on Coastal Zones – Northeastern University College of Science

Originally posted on The Well

Moore Foundation Funds MBL Teams for Symbiosis Research | The Well

July 28th, 2020 @

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Symbiosis in Aquatic Systems Initiative is investing $19 million over the next three years to support 42 teams of scientists, including four teams with MBL researchers, to collaboratively develop tools and methods to advance model systems in aquatic symbiosis. The Initiative’s funding aims to equip the scientific community with Moore Foundation Funds MBL Teams for Symbiosis Researchinfrastructure such as new genetic tools, cultivation methods, and nanoscale microscopy to improve experimental capabilities in aquatic symbiosis research over the coming decade. Read more about the initiative …

The MBL scientists funded in this grant include:

Project title: Underground Allies: Dynamic Interactions Among Cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) and Sulfur-Cycling Microbes in the Rhizosphere
Principal Investigator: Zoe Cardon, MBL
Co-Investigators: Anne Giblin, Elena L. Peredo, Blair Paul, and Emil Ruff, MBL

Summary: Spartina alterniflora  is a native cordgrass dominating intertidal salt marsh platforms along thousands of miles of the U.S. East and Gulf coasts. The interaction among Spartina roots, sulfate reducing bacteria, and sulfur oxidizing bacteria is at the core of salt marsh health. We aim to establish a model system for understanding mechanisms underlying this symbiosis using plants and microbes isolated from the Plum Island Ecosystem Long Term Ecological Research site north of Boston. The Spartina root system and its associated sulfur-cycling microbes control an ecosystem-scale production, recycling and detoxification system, maintaining vast expanses of clonal Spartina that are crucibles for marine coastal life, and creating peat platforms critical for salt marsh persistence in the face of rising sea levels.

Read the complete story on The Well...

WBUR | MBL’s Anne Giblin Comments on U.N. Climate Report on Oceans

September 26th, 2019 @

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report Wednesday detailing how climate change is affecting oceans and the frozen world. It’s the final of three special reports, and, like the previous two, it has implications for New England.MBL's Anne Giblin Comments on U.N. Climate Report on Oceans | WBUR

If you’re picturing a polar bear standing on a small ice floe and wondering what this has to do with you, just know that what happens in one corner of the world — even somewhere as remote and inhospitable as the Arctic Ocean — can have a profound effect on ecosystems and humans thousands of miles away.

With that in mind, here are five takeaways for New England in the report: Read more and listen to radio spot…

By Miriam Wasser. This segment aired on September 25, 2019.

Photo: A wave crashes high above a house on Oceanside Avenue in Scituate during a 2018 nor’easter. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Source: Here’s What The New U.N. Report On Oceans And Ice Means For New England | WBUR

Salt Marshes' Capacity to Store Carbon may be Threatened by Nitrogen Pollution

August 23rd, 2019 @
Salt marshes sequester carbon at rates more than an order of magnitude greater than their terrestrial counterparts. Core samples for this study where taken from this marsh in Rowley, Mass., part of the Plum Island Ecosystems NSF-LTER site. Credit: Aber, Aber, and Valentine 2009.

Salt marshes sequester carbon at rates more than an order of magnitude greater than their terrestrial counterparts. Core samples for this study where taken from this marsh in Rowley, Mass., part of the Plum Island Ecosystems NSF-LTER site. Credit: Aber, Aber, and Valentine 2009.

Deep in the waterlogged peat of salt marshes, carbon is stored at much greater rates than in land ecosystems, serving as an offset to climate change due to carbon dioxide (CO2) build-up in the atmosphere.

However, a new study indicates that a common pollutant of coastal waters, nitrate, stimulates the decomposition of organic matter in salt marsh sediments that normally would have remained stable over long periods of time. This increase in decomposition, which releases CO2, could alter the capacity of salt marshes to sequester carbon over the long term. The study, led by scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole, and Northeastern University, is published in Global Change Biology.

“Traditionally, we have viewed salt marshes as resilient to nitrogen pollution, because the microbes there remove much of the nitrogen as gas through a process called denitrification,” writes first author Ashley Bulseco, a postdoctoral scientist at the MBL.

“But this research suggests that when nitrate is abundant, a change occurs in the microbial community in salt marsh sediments that increases the microbes’ capacity to degrade organic matter. This potentially reduces the ability of the marsh to store carbon,” Bulseco writes.

Ashley Bulseco, pictured, and team used a controlled flow-through reactor experiment to determine how nitrate affected organic matter decomposition and microbial community structure in salt marsh sediments. Credit: MBL Ecosystems Center

Ashley Bulseco, pictured, and co-authors used a controlled flow-through reactor experiment to determine how nitrate affected organic matter decomposition and microbial community structure in salt marsh sediments. Credit: MBL Ecosystems Center

As global temperatures continue to rise, a number of carbon capture strategies have been proposed, including sequestering CO2 in “blue carbon” habitats such as salt marshes, mangroves and seagrass meadows. However, coastal nitrogen pollution is also still rising in many areas due to agricultural and urban runoff, and sewage.

“Given the extent of nitrogen loading along our coastlines, it is imperative that we better understand the resilience of salt marsh systems to nitrate, especially if we hope to rely on salt marshes and other blue carbon systems for long-term carbon storage,” the authors write.

The next phase of this research, already in progress, is to analyze the microbial community responsible for degrading carbon in a salt marsh ecosystems, especially when exposed to high concentrations of nitrate.

Among Bulseco’s co-authors are Jennifer Bowen, professor of marine and environmental sciences at Northeastern University, and Anne Giblin, director of the Ecosystems Center at the MBL, who were her PhD advisors.


Ashley N. Bulseco et al (2019) Nitrate addition stimulates microbial decomposition of organic matter in salt marsh sediments. Global Change Biology, DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14726

Originally published in The Well.

Team Explores the Recovery, Resilience of a Stressed Salt Marsh

July 29th, 2019 @

Day in and day out for 13 years, scientists slowly dripped fertilizers into a pristine section of salt marsh north of Boston. They were simulating, in a controlled experiment, the pollution that marshes in densely Team Explores the Recovery, Resilience of a Stressed Salt Marshpopulated areas receive from sewage, lawn fertilizer, and other human sources.

By the time they stopped dripping the nutrients — nitrogen and phosphorus — in 2016, they had observed changes in the marsh’s plant and animal community and even in its physical structure.

The creek banks had begun to crack and slump down, indicating that the over the long term, nutrient pollution could be a factor in converting “a vegetated marsh into a mudflat, which is a much less productive ecosystem,” said MBL Fellow Linda Deegan, lead investigator of the project at the Plum Island Ecosystems Long-Term Ecological Research Site (PIE-LTER).

Losses of healthy salt marsh have accelerated in recent decades, with some losses caused by sea-level rise and development. “Salt marshes are a critical interface between the land and sea,” Deegan said. “They provide habitat for fish, birds, and shellfish; protect coastal cities from storms; and take nutrients out of water coming from upland areas, which protects coastal bays from pollution.”

Now, the team wants to know, “Will this marsh be able to recover?” Buoyed by a new, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation, they are watching how the marsh is responding now that the nutrient addition has stopped.

Nutrient addition over 13 years led to cracking and slumping of creek banks in the experimental site. Now, the TIDE team is studying how the salt marsh responds to a reduced nutrient load. Credit: Shanna Baker, MBL Logan Science Journalism Program

“We want to see how microbes, plants and animals respond to a decrease in nutrients,” said Anne Giblin, who directs the MBL Ecosystems Center as well as the PIE-LTER. “We will also see if the changes in the marsh’s physical structure that we observed after fertilization began will continue in the same direction, or reverse course.”

This marks the latest phase in the ecosystem-scale TIDE Project, which began in 2002. The scientists now hope to illuminate “the legacy effects of stress-induced changes (genotypic to landscape) on ecosystem recovery, and the limits of landscape resilience.”

Giblin received this collaborative NSF grant with Deegan, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Research Center, and James A. Nelson, assistant professor at University of Louisiana.

Top photo: Lush cordgrass (Spartina patens) at a salt marsh in Ipswich, Mass., part of the Plum Island Ecosystems study site. Credit: David S. Johnson, TIDE Project

Originally published in: The Well: MBL News from the Source

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