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# An Examination of Marsh Grass Diversity in a Brackish Marsh (page 4)

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Author: Sarah Bennett|Michael Rae

#### V. Follow-up Data:

*Note: Two weeks following the Field Sampling, collect the following data.

A. Water Levels: Follow procedure in part II/C/3.

B. Core Samples

1. Re-collect samples at each data station, following procedure in part III/C/1/I.
2. Repeat all of procedure part IV, letter B.

C. Soil Colors

1. At each data station collect a small sample of soil below the decomposition layer.
2. Match the colors of each data station soil samples to a Munsell Soil Color Chart.

### Procedure: Assateague Island Sampling

#### Placement of Data Station Flags

A. Along an 83 meter section of boardwalk, place data station flags every 12 meters, for a total of 7 station flags.

B. At each station flag, place a quadrat marker flag using the table of random angles and distances. If the random angle is between 0 and 179 degrees, place the quadrat flag, the specified distance in centimeters, towards the back of the marsh, alongside the boardwalk. If the random angle is between 180 and 359 degrees, place the quadrat flag towards the edge of the marsh, alongside the boardwalk. Example: 203 degrees, 200 centimeters

C. At each Quadrat Flag complete the following steps.

1. Place quadrat in the ground so that the quadrat flag is in the center of the frame.
2. Stand up all individual plants that live inside the quadrat sampling area.
3. Before collecting and recording data, note the different species found within the quadrat area.
4. Estimate the percent cover, by eye, of each species.
5. Count the number of individuals of each species.

D. Record the temperature of both the water and the soil.

E. Collect a water sample. Keep Cold. Run pH and a salinity tests on the water sample. Please use procedure described in part IV/B/2,3,4.

### Wye Island Materials

#### Procedure Part I:

A. Four steel rods (50 cm in length, 0.5 cm in diameter) Two steel bars (1 m in length)

B. Two wooden dowels (2 m in length, 4 cm in diameter) Two metric meter sticks One clear plastic tube (Approx. 10 m in length, 0.5 cm in diameter) Colored water (2 drops food coloring per 1 gallon of water)

C. Clear length of piping File Rubber stopper (sized to fit unfiled end of piping)

#### Procedure Part II:

A. Data station markers (for example PVC piping)

B. Elevation meter Rope marked in meter increments Meter stick

#### Procedure Part III:

A. Table of random angles and distances

C. Household Cutting Scissors Meter stick Table of random heights Zip-Lock bags Thermometer (degrees Celcius) Core sampler Eight Plastic collection containers (200 mL)

#### Procedure Part IV:

A. Balance (0.01 gram accuracy) Drying pans

B. Latex Rubber gloves Cheesecloth sheets Sixteen small plastic collection containers (50 mL) Available refrigeration Filter paper Plastic funnel Vernier Software pH System (Code: PH-DIN) Vernier Software Conductivity Probe (Code: CON-DIN) Texas Instruments CBL System LaMotte Chemical Salinity Titration Test Kit (Model: POL-H/AG-2B, Code: 7459)

#### Procedure Part VI:

B. Munsell Soil Color Chart

#### Assateague Island Materials:

Fourteen flags (of 2 different colors, 7 of each color) Table of random angles and distances Quadrat frame Thermometer (degrees Celcius) Plastic collection container (50 mL)

### Data

The data is loaded in a large file which will take awhile to download. Click here to get the data file. Data tables entitled Field Data 1A-8A and Field Data 1B-8C include all data on grass species found in Deer City Marsh by quadrats. Field Data 1A-8A includes all the data from the quadrats that were harvested. Such data includes Percent Covers, Frequencies, Above Ground Biomass, and Heights. Field Data 1B-8C quadrats were not harvested quadrats, therefore the data collected includes only percent covers and frequencies.

### Discussion

#### Species Frequency by Elevation

Based on our findings, we accept our initial hypothesis that species frequencies do change over an elevation gradient for certain species. This holds true for S.alterniflora (t), S.alterniflora (s), S.patens, D.spicata, and A.tenuifolias. Their frequencies displayed a significance to a change in elevation. Other species were not found significant to elevation by this study because of a lack of data or the random dispersal of sampled individuals.

#### Species Diversity by Elevation

No correlation between diversity and elevation was found; therefore, we reject our initial hypothesis concerning a connection between elevation and diversity. Reasons for the lack of correlation can be attributed to the transects not running the entire length of the marsh and the dominance of species such as I.frutescens and P.australius. A significant change in diversity was not observed because the transects did not extend deep enough to display a drop in salinity.

#### Other Factors

No significance was observed between species frequency and the edaphic features, with the exception of temperature. By extending the transects and making improvements in methods and laboratory analyses, a correlation may have been observed between salinity, temperature, and pH with respect to species frequency. The same lack of significance holds true for the edaphic features in respect to elevation and biomass.

### Bibliography

Burnett, J. Alexander. "Notes From a Saltmarsh Diary." Nature Canada Fall 1994: 14-20.

Cambell, Neil A. Biology. 3rd ed. California: The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing, Co., Inc., 1993.

Foth, Dr. Henry D. A Study of Soil Science. Chestertown, MD: LaMotte Chemical Products Co., 1970.

Hayek, Lee-Ann C, and Martin A. Buzas. Surveying Natural Populations. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.

Hotchkiss, Neil. Common Marsh, Underwater and Floating-Leaved Plants of the United States and Canada. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1972.

Latane III, Lawrence. "Wetlands: The Irreplaceable Link Between Land and Water." Richmond Times-Dispatch July 9, 1989: 16+.

Magurran, Anne E. Ecological Diversity and Its Measurement. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.

Rooth, Jill Personal interview. 13 Sept. 1997. Samuels, Myra C. Statistics for the Life Sciences. San Francisco: Dellen Publishing Co., 1989.

Silberhorn, Gene M. Common Plants of the Mid-Atlantic Coast: A Field Guide. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982.

Sutherland, William, ed. Ecological Census Techniques. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 111-134.

Teal, John and Mildred. Life and Death of the Salt Marsh. New York: Ballantine Books, 1969.

### Acknowledgements

Sarah would like to thank Jennifer, Amelia, Vicki, Laura, Billy, Michael, Julia, and the rest of the BIO Project for their help with data collection. Thanks to Mr. Baker for his help designing and building a quadrat sampler. Thanks also goes out to Jill Rooth at Horn Point Laboratories. Your help was greatly appreciated.

She would also like to thank Mr. Daniel Sheckells for his continuing support of this project and for all the help he has given us.

She would especially like to thank Mr. George Radcliffe, mentor and friend, for his ever continuing support throughout the completion of this project. We wish him luck in the future with other BIO projects! We will miss you very much in the future!

Sarah would like to thank Mike for joining the project at the perfect time! It has been great working with you, as well as fun. You really helped me out! Thanks!

Mike would like to thank Vicki, Laura, Michael, Jennifer, Julia, and the rest of the BIO Project members for braving the November cold and rain while helping with data collection. The project would still be in the data collection stage without your help.

Thanks also extended to Mr. Baker and Billy for the technical and preliminary expertise offered in the setting up of the data stations and quadrat frame.

To Mr. Radcliffe, Mr. Sheckells, Mr. Waits, and Jill Rooth: your time, advice, expertise, and resources were instrumental and greatly appreciated. Your influence and teaching will carry on forever.

Special thanks to Sarah Bennett as project partner and Mr. Radcliffe as an inspiration and mentor. Working with both of you is an experience and pleasure that will never be forgotten. Thank You.

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