Can an endangered plant help wildlife escape rising seas?


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On a recent sunny day, we pounded large wooden branches into the sand and mud next to newly planted shrubs at a salt marsh in a northern part of San Francisco Bay. Our research lab, led by Dr. Katharyn Boyer at San Francisco State University’s Estuary & Ocean Science (EOS) Center, was testing whether an endangered plant with a propensity to climb can help provide endangered animals with refuge from increasingly rising seas.

High tide is a dangerous time for the animals that inhabit our coastal salt marshes. These environments are full of flat expanses with low-lying vegetation — and when they flood with water, small animals living there become easy pickings for raptors flying above, as well as roving foxes and coyotes. That danger is likely to increase as a result of global warming. Some bay marshes will not be able to build sediment fast enough to keep pace with the accelerating rise in sea levels, and high tides will flood the marshes more frequently.

Read the full article in the S.F. Examiner