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Loss of Salt Marshes in Georgia: Potential Causes and Remedies

PIs: Chandrasekaran Franklin -- lead PI (Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia, USA) and Jan MacKinnon (Georgia Dept of Natural Resources, Coastal Resources Division, Brunswick, Georgia, USA).

Support: Savannah Presbytery M. K. Pentecost Ecology Fund

Timeframe: 2003 - 2004, renewed through 2005

Project Overview:
The overall objectives are to conduct relevant studies needed for investigating the cause(s) of vegetation loss in affected salt marshes, to evaluate the potential for natural recovery of affected plants, and to provide the technical support for developing meaningful, scientifically sound and feasible restoration projects. The specific objectives are:
  • To conduct morphological, anatomical and cytological analyses of plant samples at the organ, tissue and cellular levels in order to identify any unusual structural details and/or functional activities.
  • To perform vital stain tests to determine if plant parts (e.g. rhizomes, apical meristems, etc.) from affected areas are viable.
  • To identify a pattern, if present, in the progression of plant death.
  • To predict the potential for natural recovery of the salt marsh, or to determine if there is a potential for recovery.
  • To explore various approaches to generate adequate genetic diversity among plant propagules, which is essential for restoration efforts.

Preliminary analysis of samples indicate that underground as well as aerial plant parts are either dead or in the process of dying. Most of the root systems of samples from affected areas showed signs of decay. Some roots looked normal and healthy, but they did not test positive for a vital stain.


Link to Marsh Dieback index page

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This page was updated October 13, 2006