Geophysical Investigations of Vegetation Patterns and Competition in Salt Marshes

Participants: Lee Slater, Associate Professor, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Rutgers-Newark Chi Zhang, Ph.D. Candidate, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Rutgers-Newark Linda Mutinda, M.S. Candidate, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Rutgers-Newark

Lee Slater (Associate Professor, Rutgers-Newark) and Chi Zhang (PhD student, Rutgers-Newark) are using near surface geophysical methods to investigate causes of vegetation patterning and competition between native (Spartina grasses) and invasive (Phragmites) species in the NJ Meadowlands. They are primarily using a galvanic cell type measurement to rapidly map sulfide concentrations across vegetation gradients in order to test hypotheses suggesting that high sulfide concentrations restrict phragmites colonization. This simple galvanic cell measurement offers the opportunity to map spatial distributions in relative changes in sulfide concentrations that can be visually correlated with vegetation patterning. Slater and Zhang are also using electrical resistivity surveys to image the near surface lithology and investigate whether the pockets of Spartina grasses are related to stratigraphic features.