Georgia Southern graduate student researching different effects of plantation treatment on Tybee Island sand dunes | Writing
Tybee Island’s sand dunes have taken a hit in recent hurricane seasons. Shannon Matzke, a graduate biology student at Georgia Southern University, is researching ways to combat dune destruction for her restoration project by collecting data on the effects of various planting techniques to see which technique best increases the longevity of dunes. dunes.
As part of the project, Matzke collects monthly data on plant growth and survival, as well as sand accumulation associated with different planting densities and species groups. She also spends time analyzing data, exploring new techniques and tools for use in the field, researching dunes and vegetation, and conducting outreach activities for the project.
“Working on the beach has been such a fun experience,” said Matzke. “It was also gratifying to learn new techniques and use new equipment to answer more questions about the success of the restoration project. Maybe my favorite part was the awareness associated with my project. The overall construction of the dunes and feeding the beach is so important to the islanders, and I enjoyed being able to explain how my work fits into the larger project.
Of the plants studied, 95% survived the first growing season. On average, plants doubled in height and canopy cover compared to their size when initially planted. Matzke also collects data in areas of the built dune that have been left bare to compare to vegetated sites. Unlike vegetated dunes, bare sites undergo erosion, which further explains the importance of adding native vegetation to any new dune construction.
Matzke said she was drawn to Georgia Southern and the biology department because of the proximity to the coast. She also appreciated the previous work of her advisor Lissa Leege, Ph.D., on native and threatened plant species.
“I am so happy that I chose to get my masters degree at Georgia Southern because I was able to connect with researchers inside and outside my department, as well as with professionals in the field. ‘industry and government,’ she said. “I also appreciated being able to work on Tybee and the convenience of having the Armstrong campus close to where I live in Savannah.”
Matze, who will graduate in fall 2021, hopes to continue his work with native plant ecology.
“After I graduate from Georgia Southern, I would like to work for a state or local agency in the field of natural resource management,” said Matzke. “I want to continue working on invasive species research, conservation of endangered plants and habitat restoration using native species. My research at Georgia Southern is the perfect introductory experience to the type of work I would like to continue doing.
For more information on the Department of Biology, visit cosm.georgiasouthern.edu/biologie/.