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Press Release 12-199

Why Are Coastal Salt Marshes Falling Apart?

Too many nutrients can cause extensive loss of marshes

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Photo of a green salt marsh.

Where are all the salt marshes going? Excess nutrients may be to blame for their decline.

Credit: NSF Plum Island Ecosystems LTER Site


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A map showing the location of the Plum Island Ecosystems (PIE).

Plum Island Ecosystems, PIE at right on the map, is one of 26 NSF Long-Term Ecological Research sites.

Credit: NSF LTER Network


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Image showing Parker River mouth through Plum Island's salt marshes.

The mouth of the Parker River is a major channel through Plum Island's salt marshes.

Credit: NSF Plum Island Ecosystems LTER Site


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Map showing the Plum Island, Mass., and the Atlantic coast.

Salt marshes and tidal creeks abound at Plum Island, Mass., and along the Atlantic coast.

Credit: NSF Plum Island Ecosystems LTER Site


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Photo of two tidal channels in salt marsh, or Spartina, grass.

Tidal channels in salt marsh, or Spartina, grass. What is their capacity for carrying nutrients?

Credit: NSF Plum Island Ecosystems LTER Site


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Photo of Scientists Erik Yando and Clara Chaisson measuring marsh that has slumped into a creek.

Scientists Erik Yando and Clara Chaisson measure marsh that has slumped into a creek.

Credit: David Johnson


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