Welcome to Plum Island Ecosystems LTER

The Plum Island Ecosystems LTER (PIE LTER) located in northeastern Massachusetts is an integrated research, education and outreach program with the goal of developing a predictive understanding of the long-term response of watershed and estuarine ecosystems to changes in climate, land use and sea level and to apply this knowledge to the wise management and development of policy to protect the natural resources of the coastal zone.

PIE LTER research is focused in the estuary and watersheds of Plum Island Sound in northeastern Massachusetts.  The estuary is fed by the Ipswich, Rowley and Parker Rivers with a combined drainage basin of 609km2.  The Plum Island Sound estuary is a coastal plain, bar-built estuary with extensive areas of productive tidal marshes: the largest expanse of intertidal marsh in the Northeast.

PIE LTER is administered by The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA . PIE is a member of the US Long Term Ecological Research Network funded by the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research Program.

Fiddlers on the Hoof

The fiddler crab (Uca pugnax), long regarded as a southern species, is on the move. (photo Jon Whitcomb)
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Microbial workforce: Who's clocked in?

Of the millions of microbes present per milliliter of marsh soil or water, how many and which ones are metabolically active? .....More information.....

For PIE marshes, onward must be upward

More frequent flooding of the Spartina patens high marsh caused by rising sea level may threaten its survival (photo S. Bond).  More information…..

Marsh accretion vs. sea-level rise

Measuring CO2 fluxes using instrumented towers helps determine if marshes can accumulate enough organic matter to keep pace with sea level rise (photo Inke Forbrich) .  More information...

The PIE Watershed Paradox

Do beaver ponds mitigate nitrogen loading from urban sprawl? (photo Wil Wollheim)  more information.........

It's the tortoise, not the hare

It's not the intense, short-lived events that cause the most erosion in salt marshes; it's the slow, steady forces of waves driven by moderate wind conditions (photo S. Fagherazzi).  More information….



Tides, Plum Island Sound (south end)