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Subject: PLSC399 Special Problems in Plant Science

Description:
Research Question: Effects of climate change, such as sea level rise and
shifts in weather patterns, can cause saltwater intrusion. In rural coastal
areas, the effects of saltwater intrusion may alter ecosystem functioning.
Forests and crops can die off due to the slow creep of saltwater inland as
well as from large pulses of salt water from estuaries or oceans during
extreme storm events. When saltwater intrusion occurs along tidal areas near
the boundaries of farmland and forests, aerobic soils transition to anaerobic
tidal marsh soils. Agricultural soils that are shifting from an aerobic to an
anaerobic state can undergo a series of chemical exchanges that can free
phosphorus and nitrogen stored in the soils from decades of farming. This has
major implications for water quality and nutrient management in coastal
agricultural areas. The goal of this research is to explore trends in
nutrient release due to saltwater intrusion in ecotones where farmland and
forests are transitioning to tidal wetlands.

Course Expectations: The student will assist with water and soil sample
collection and analysis. This may require two to three trips to Maryland’s
lower eastern shore. With guidance from Dr. Tully and Dani, the student will
develop a portion of the study as his/her own project, which will involve the
processing of a subset of samples, exploratory data analysis, and an
end-of-semester report detailing the work completed.

Requirements: No previous laboratory experience is necessary, as the student
will be trained on all required skills during the semester. The goal of this
internship is to provide the student with an introduction to soils and
ecology research. To that effect, the student must have an interest in
ecology and conservation, and like getting dirty!

Contact Person: Dr. Kate Tully
Contact Email: [log in to unmask]
Website URL: http://www.agroecologylab.com/