Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only
Bachelors of Science (BS)
Salt marshes act as links between terrestrial and marine ecosystems and provide both food and habitat for many species of fish and birds. Salt marsh arthropods play a particularly important role as prey for these higher trophic level species but are tightly coupled with salt marsh vegetation. In order to predict how sea level rise will impact birds and other consumers, we must understand how arthropods, especially insects and arachnids, are impacted by seasonal and inundation-related changes to plant communities. We used a combination of sticky traps and plexiglass boxes designed to retain water after high tide to investigate arthropod community abundance and diversity patterns across seasons, marsh habitats, and inundation regimes. Arthropods were more abundant in the low marsh habitat than in higher elevation marsh habitats, but species richness was lower in the low marsh. This study also detected an emergence event during late summer, leading to higher arthropod abundances in September than in June. Significantly more Chironomids were caught in plots containing boxes compared to control plots. These results demonstrate that certain habitats and times of year produce more abundant or diverse arthropod communities, making them especially important for higher trophic level organisms. Connecting these patterns to climate change provides managers with a way to prioritize the conservation of specific marsh habitats that will be used most often used by wildlife for foraging during future sea level rise conditions and corresponding changes to plant communities.
Dunn, Carlee, "Crickets and cicadas sing: Terrestrial invertebrates in a San Rafael salt marsh" (2023). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1912.
On-Campus Access Only