Taking care of the young

This project would not be possible without all the highly motivated young people in the team who do most of the counting and measuring and weeding and cutting. And while it is hard work, particularly in this heat, it is safe to say that none of them is regretting getting involved so far. After all, it is a great opportunity to work in an international and interdisciplinary team and a fantastic experience to work in such a large and unique facility. They will all get an amazing dataset out of this project which will keep them busy over the next few months and will form the basis for their dissertations and theses.

But we are also thinking about the young plants, which often grow on the very forefront of salt marshes. In this exposed location and without sheltering older plants around them their life is harsh, which is why we dedicated a complete experimental zone to them. Here we perform the same measurements than in all other zones, but because the seedlings stand separated from each other, it is much easier to see how the different plant species respond differently to the wave forcing.

The seedlings that we use have been grown from seeds this spring just like seeds would germinate in nature. However, out there a precondition of germination is that the seeds stay in one place long enough to germinate and take root. We therefore are also addressing the question how seeds actually survive storm waves on the sediment surface. And since brown salt marsh seeds are really hard to see on brown salt marsh soil, we use mimics that have a similar shape and weight but are much better to see. They may appear like remnants of a party, but they have been placed with great care!


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