Bertness Lab Mark Bertness Lablogo
Coastal Ecology and Conservation at Brown University


Sinéad Crotty
Undergraduate Researcher

Sc. B. Biology, Brown University (Expected 2015)




I am working with fellow undergrad, Matt Bevil, to assess the recent spread of salt marsh die-off into Narragansett Bay. Creek bank die-off has been extensively documented in Cape Cod marshes, but only recently arrived in Rhode Island. We are looking at how patterns of die-off relate to shoreline development, recreational fishing, substrate hardness, and nutrient loading into Narragansett Bay. We will use historical aerial photographs to map the spread of die-off into the Bay and will quantify Sesarma reticulatum densities, burrow densities, substrate hardness, nutrient levels, herbivory rates, and predation rates to explain the spatial relationship between these variables and creek bank die-off. *

I am also interested in species invasions and the broad range of biotic and abiotic consequences they may have. My previous work has looked at the invasion of Phragmites australis into Narragansett Bay. Using aerial photographs provided by Rhode Island GIS, I analyzed the effect of salt marsh catchment basin development intensity and the resultant spread of Phragmites. As part of this project, we also looked at the differential nutrient sequestering ability of Phragmites and the native species it replaces, Iva frutescens, to further understand the effects of this invasive at different development intensity levels.

* This project is made possible through the Voss Environmental Fellows Program with the additional support of the Henry David Thoreau Foundation, Peter and Pamela Voss, Brown University’s Swearer Center, the Woods Lectureship Fund, the Center for Environmental Studies, and Environmental Change Initiative.