Date of Award

Fall 12-2023

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Chair

Dr. Wei Wu

Committee Chair School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Member 2

Dr. Kelly Darnell

Committee Member 2 School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Member 3

Dr. Matt Bethel


Sea-level rise is an escalating threat to coastal wetlands as increased inundation and saltwater intrusion can lead to lowered productivity, decreased biomass, and plant death – and ultimately land loss. In chapter one, I detailed the interactive effects of inundation and nitrogen on two commonly found saltmarsh species, Spartina alterniflora and Spartina patens. I examined productivity and metrics to these stressors using a controlled mesocosm experiment in the western channel of the Pascagoula River, Mississippi. I found varying strategies of growth between species and differing responses between the short- and long-term. Overall Spartina alterniflora performed better with increased inundation than Spartina patens. Both species responded positively to nitrogen additions in the above- and belowground biomass, with the latter shown only in the long-term. In chapter two, I evaluated the impact of sea-level rise on coastal wetlands that are important for an underrepresented community in Louisiana. I worked with the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe (PACIT) and Louisiana Sea Grant to understand saltmarsh resiliency to increased inundation. I applied a mechanistic landscape model to predict coastal wetland change impacted by sea-level rise in comparison to vulnerability assessments from traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). By integrating the biophysical model predictions with land-based, generational assessments, I highlighted vulnerable areas to sea-level rise while including the tribe’s sustainability goals, producing a spatial tool that can be used by PACIT and land managers to prioritize saltmarsh restoration. The findings in this thesis will improve our understanding of coastal resiliency and ecosystem health under future sea-level rise and climate change.