|Taking great care to not leave any trace of|
where we've sampled on the marsh!
We found an excellent marsh to work on, which allowed us to take lots of samples to help us properly understand the present day environment. In our work we need a sound understanding of what is happening today to be able to interpret what happened in the past. We take small samples along a transect across the marsh from the mudflat exposed at low tide, across the low marsh, high marsh, and up to where freshwater vegetation grows. We look at how diatom communities (small microscopic single-celled algae) change across these different zones as the amount of tidal inundation decreases the further you get from the sea. We mainly find marine diatom species in mudflat samples and freshwater diatoms in the high marsh samples. Then when we look at our sediment cores from the past, if we find lots of marine diatoms we interpret the environment at this time was most like the present day mudflat. From this we are able to reconstruct how the land level has changed through time.
|Taking a modern sample from the low marsh|
|Freshwater diatom of the Pinnularia genus (about half the width of a |
human hair - thanks to Melanie Leng for giving this comparison!)