Effects of Sea Level Rise on Tidal Marshes
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There is growing concern regarding the potentially negative impacts of sea level rise (SLR) on tidal wetlands in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. In Chapter one, I investigate the phenotypic plasticity and biomechanical properties of <italic>Zizania aquatica</italic> under experimental inundation treatments. At lower elevations and higher inundation designed to simulate SLR, <italic>Zizania aquatica</italic> did indeed respond with phenotypic changes such as increased height and stem thickness, and decreased stem density, areal aboveground biomass, and modulus of elasticity. In Chapter two, I investigate the nitrogen removal role of Chesapeake Bay tidal wetlands under current and simulated long-term SLR. I also examine nitrogen removal at smaller scales in Maryland, comparing restoration goals for nitrogen loading reductions with the loss of nitrogen removal services expected by 2025. Tidal wetlands are expected to decrease in the Bay and Maryland and associated loss of nitrogen removal services may affect attainment of restoration goals.