Term of Award

Spring 2007

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Sophie B. George

Committee Member 1

Stephen P. Vives

Committee Member 2

Daniel F. Gleason

Abstract

Various commercially important marine species are known to utilize the salt marsh; research has shown that marsh infauna play an important role in the diets of these species. The distribution and abundance of some of these infauna has been shown to be influenced by vegetative cover. In 2001, salt marshes along the coast of Georgia began to die, resulting in the loss of the dominant vegetation. During the summer of 2005, six 0.5 x 0.5 meter quadrats were haphazardly placed and set up permanently in the low marsh at two study sites along the Crooked River in vegetated and unvegetated areas. Core samples were taken from each quadrat at low tide during 3 months. Taxa richness and diversity was described at each site to determine if unvegetated areas at each site displayed lower infaunal abundance and diversity. The effects of the absence of vegetation varied between sites and across sampling months. There were no significant differences in organic content between the vegetated and unvegetated quadrats; abiotic measurements taken from each site were similar.

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