Related Research Areas
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems, Water & Energy Cycles

Spread of invasive plant species in the coastal wetlands of the Laurentian Great Lakes is degrading wetland habitat, decreasing biodiversity and reducing ecosystem services. The health and maintenance of the coastal wetlands, which provide a vital link between land and water, are imperative to maintaining the health of the entire Great Lakes Basin. The simultaneous impacts of land use and climate change are expected to increase the spread of invasive plant species. Most coastal wetlands in the Great Lakes Basin are located within the drowned river mouths of major tributaries, isolated by narrow connecting channels from the larger lakes. Urbanization amplifies the threat of eutrophication along the coasts, facilitating invasions and reducing biodiversity. Similarly climate changes are expected to alter the fluxes of water and nutrients to the coasts, and impact the rate of invasion by these problematic plant species. Understanding the mechanisms of invasion is crucial to controlling this growing threat, and requires coupling hydrologic and ecosystem models. The current understanding of mechanisms of invasion in wetlands is limited, and past studies have been confined to small catchments. The proposed research will integrate remote sensing with a process-based hydrologic model and an ecosystem model, developed specifically to understand mechanisms of invasions, to study the watersheds of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. This integrated research will link flow and transport of water and nutrients from the land to the coasts with the process-based ecosystem model to understand the effects of a changing landscape and climate on the spread of invasives. We will parameterize and test our models for three invasive species in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula (Phragmites australis, Typha angustifolia and Typha xglauca). The conceptual advances of this research and the further development of these models are expected to be broadly transferable to other invaders across a range of ecosystems. Our overarching hypothesis is that the net rate and extent of invasions will be determined by the interaction of nutrient additions (related to landscape hydrology, upland land uses, and atmospheric deposition) and by water and sediment temperatures as affected by regional climate. To test this hypothesis, we will address four specific objectives: 1) Evaluate interactions of nutrient cycling processes, temperature, and plant traits that facilitate invasions on a local scale using process-based community-ecosystem model, MONDRIAN; 2) Simulate water and nutrient fluxes and water temperature across regional watersheds using the Integrated Landscape Hydrology Model (ILHM); and 3) Develop a regionally-calibrated ecological model and use the tested, coupled models to simulate how changes in climate and land use in Michigan are likely to affect wetland plant invasions and ecosystem services provided by Great Lakes coastal marshes. We will parameterize and verify our models using several new remote sensing products that will provide important physiological, biochemical and landscape information including a novel hybrid radar-optical technique developed to delineate stands of invasives and natural wetland cover types, as well as new algorithms to estimate leaf area index (LAI) and canopy nitrogen concentration using Landsat and hyperspectral data. This proposal directly addresses NASA's goals for NNH09ZDA001N-IDS, Interdisciplinary Research in Earth Science, Subelement 2 by utilizing satellite data, field observations, and observationally driven hydrological and ecological models to understand watershed dynamics in the face of a changing climate and changing land use. By connecting processes that occur in upland ecosystems and landscapes with coastal marine ecosystems through the shared hydrology, an understanding of the effects of coupled climate and land use changes on coastal Great Lakes wetlands will be attained.

PI: Laura Bourgeau-Chavez/Michigan Tech Research Institute

Michigan Tech Research Institute

3600 Green Ct. Suite 100

Ann Arbor MI 48105

Phone: 734-913-6873



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Started: Sep 29, 2010

Last Activity: Mar 18, 2011


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