Current Research

Our current research is designed to address two major themes:

Theme 1 - What  drivers, both external and internal, control the geomorphic features and spatial arrangement and connectivity of habitat  patches in the coastal zone?

Theme 2 - How are ecological processes influenced by the spatial arrangements and connectivity between patches in the coastal zone?

We approach these questions in the specific example of the Plum Island Estuary (PIE) system, which contains a mosaic of landscapes, riverscapes, and seascapes, all connected by the water flowing through and among them.  We conduct research in the Ipswich and Parker River watersheds, adjacent watersheds draining to the Plum Island estuary, that differ in size and degree of human activity.  The Ipswich River watershed has greater human activity due to closer proximity to Boston.  Both watersheds contain complex stream networks that flow variously through suburban or forested landscapes, over dams, through freshwater wetlandsand into saltwater marshes in the estuary.  Both watersheds empty into Plum Island Sound and the coastal ocean of the Gulf of Maine. The coastal ocean forces the 3- meter tides that fill and drain the marsh creeks.  It is our goal to transfer knowledge gained from the PIE LTER to other coastal regions by developing models and theories that are generally applicable to all coastal regions.

Plum Island Sound, 1:40,000 USGS National Aerial Photographic Program 1992