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Education: Garden Club of America Wetlands Scholarship

Cheryl Whritenour, MS/Ph.D. Candidate, State University of New York, Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, New York, 13210

Schuyler van MontfransGrowing up in central New York State with its abundance of streams, rivers, wetlands, and lakes there was always a place to swim, fish or canoe.  I always appreciated and took advantage of NYS’s aquatic resources.  It wasn’t until I took a Wetland Ecology class at SUNY-ESF as an undergraduate that I realized the beauty and importance of inland and coastal wetlands.  My favorite textbook is still Mitsch and Gosselink’s Wetlands.  It was while working with graduate students that were conducting their research in wetlands along Lake Ontario’s coast that I realized as a graduate student I wanted to study some facet of wetland ecology.  I loved canoeing through the wetlands; there were so many birds, frogs, and even flowers.  My second big realization came after seeing a diatom (a single-celled alga) under the microscope in an unrelated class, they are so beautiful.  Following further study of diatom biology and ecology, I learned of their requirement for silica and nitrogen in a 1:1.  In addition, every aquatics related class teaches the consequences of nitrogen loading to aquatic systems:  nuisance algal blooms, hypoxia/anoxia, and fish kills. 

These seemingly unrelated ideas led me to study the effects of altered nutrient ratios on the algal community in salt marshes in NYS and Massachusetts.  I worked in Piermont Marsh on the Hudson River and on Plum Island in MA.  While working on my MS degree, literature searches of salt marsh ecology always resulted in papers related to salt marsh restoration.  The recognition that so many salt marshes have been lost or degraded has led me to this current research; I hope to add to the body of knowledge being developed on marsh restoration.  This research should shed light on the nutrient ratios required to produce an algal biofilm that will function as a component of successful salt marsh restoration.

Proposal - How do Si:N:P ratios affect biofilm development, composition, and salt marsh restoration? SUNY, Syracuse, NY