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


Climate change impacts on coastal ecosystems

Our laboratory also has a long-standing interest in using experimental ecology and latitudinal variation to develop a predictive understanding of how climate change will impact coastal communities. This interest dates back to Mark's days as a graduate student in Panama where he developed an interest in latitudinal gradients in predation pressure and their ecological and evolutionary consequences. Currently, graduate student Lauren Szathmary is using a combination of field surveys, field experimental manipulations, and historical reconstructions from archived aerial photographs and historical weather data to examine the hypothesis that the expansion and contraction of salt marsh salt pans along the coast of North America are driven by climatic variation, affecting the ecological services provided by salt marshes.

Climate change studies

Experimental warming chambers on a Narragansett Bay salt marsh.


Pennings, S. C., E. Siska, and M.D. Bertness. 2001. Latitudinal variation in the palatability of marsh plants. Ecology 82: 1344-1359.

Bertness, M.D. and P. Ewanchuk. 2002. Latitudinal and Climate-Driven Variation in the Strength and Nature of Biological Interactions. Oecologia 132: 392-401.

Sanford, E and M.D. Bertness. 2008. Latitudinal Gradients in Biological Interactions. In Marine Macroecology, J. Witman and G. Roy (Ed), Oxford Press

Gedan, K. B. and M. D. Bertness. 2009. Experimental warming causes rapid loss of plant diversity in New England salt marshes. Ecology Letters 12: 842-848.