The True Value of a Salt Marsh: In the Grass, On the Reef

>>Narrator: Dr. David Kimbro and Dr. Randall
Hughes work to unlock the secrets of the intertidal zone, where the land meets the sea. [music]>>Narrator: It’s hurricane season in Florida.
Heavy storms are always a concern for homeowners with property on or near the coast. One coastal
habitat offers a little bit of protection. In the protected waters of St. Joseph bay,
Dr. Randall Hughes conducts studies on the nondescript expanses of grass that line the
shore. She is researching coastal salt marshes.>>Randall Hughes: Most people looking at a
marsh don’t think of it as a very diverse place because it tends to be dominated by
just a single plant species, or maybe one or two.>>Narrator: But looks can be deceiving.>>Randall Hughes: Salt marshes are highly
productive coastal ecosystems. Salt marshes are really important for preventing
erosion, particularly in storm events.>>Narrator: By dissipating storm surge, marshes
protect property along the coast. According to one estimate, that service is worth over
8,000 dollars per hectare of marshland.>>Randall Hughes: Salt marshes help prevent
nutrients from land from running into the bays and the gulf and so they help sort of
clean the water. [music]>>Randall Hughes: Salt marshes provide a habitat
for lots of different invertebrates and fishes, many of whom we like to eat.>>Narrator: We’re not the only ones eating
these animals. Healthy marshlands provide food and habitat to birds, many of which are
popular with wildlife watching enthusiasts. Over the next few months on In the Grass,
On the Reef, we’ll follow Randall as she studies how biodiversity affects a marsh’s
ability to provide these and other services. [music]
>>Narrator: In the Grass, One the Reef is funded by the National Science Foundation.

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