Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Earth and Environmental Sciences


Earth and Environmental Sciences

Major Professor

Reed, Denise

Second Advisor

Georgiou, Ioannis

Third Advisor

O' Connell, Martin


This research investigated the response of the dominant salt marsh macrophyte Spartina alterniflora var. Loisel to sedimentation from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. A range of sedimentation was used to track the above and belowground plant response, as well as the volume of mineral and organic matter, in the upper reaches of the marsh soil from September 2008 to April 2009. Where storm sedimentation was greatest (~3.5 cm), there were significant increases in live aboveground biomass. Although live belowground biomass did not change significantly over time, the volumetric contribution of both mineral and soil organic matter in the shallow marsh soil increased. These results indicate that hurricane sedimentation may benefit subsiding coastal marshes by stimulating aboveground vegetation mass as well as soil organic matter volume. However, these results imply that there may be a sediment thickness threshold that must be met before such positive effects are expressed.


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