GCE fall monitoring

Dr. Steve Pennings measuring...something...during fall monitoring. Photo by Andy Penniman.
Dr. Steve Pennings measuring…something…during fall monitoring.

A large number of researchers, students, and volunteers associated with the Georgia Coastal Ecosystem (GCE)Long Term Ecological Research Project (LTER) gathered at UGAMI during the week of October 24-28 for the GCE’s annual fall monitoring. The goal of fall monitoring is to collect an extensive, standardized set of information during the same period every autumn from the GCE’s core sampling sites for use by all of the research projects associated with GCE and for inclusion in GCE’s long term databases. The research team started out a bit “behind the 8-ball” and short-handed due to hurricane Matthew, but with help from volunteers and beautiful clear days, they managed to finish all of their work on schedule. All the vegetation at one of their marsh sampling sites had been flattened by a huge mat of wrack that Hurricane Matthew’s storm surge pushed up into the marsh, but the other sites showed remarkably little signs of the storm. In addition to accomplishing an enormous amount of field sampling, fall monitoring week is a great opportunity for research colleagues from many universities across the country to catch up on each others’ recent research accomplishments.

The Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research site was established by the National Science Foundation in 2000 and is based at UGAMI. The study area encompasses three adjacent sounds (Altamaha, Doboy, and Sapelo Sounds) and includes upland (mainland, barrier islands, marsh hammocks), intertidal (fresh, brackish and salt marsh) and submerged (river, estuary, continental shelf) habitats. Over 60 participants, representing 14 academic institutions and agencies, are currently involved in GCE research and educational programs. GCE research has contributed significantly to understanding the processes that shape estuarine and marsh environments.

Tired but happy field crew after finishing their portion of the 2016 fall monitoring. Photo by Andy Penniman.
Tired but happy marsh sampling crew after finishing their portion of the 2016 fall monitoring. Photos by Andy Penniman.