Date of Award

Fall 10-2022

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Chair

Dr. Patrick Biber

Committee Chair School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Member 2

Dr. Wei Wu

Committee Member 2 School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Member 3

Dr. Luke Fairbanks

Committee Member 3 School

Ocean Science and Engineering


Saltmarshes are important environments that are valuable to both humans and wildlife. As saltmarshes are under threat from erosion, sea level rise, and human development, efforts should be made to conserve them. The vegetation that occupies these environments are vital to the continued preservation of saltmarshes. This study focuses on one potential threat, the effect that pier shading has on prominent saltmarsh plants of Mississippi, Sporobolus alterniflorus and Juncus roemarianus. Sample piers were selected in the three coastal counties of Mississippi and visited at two time periods (2006 and 2021). I focused on the use of irradiance measurements at pier sites to determine how piers affect the available light environment. Piers of different heights, widths, and board spacing were compared to identify factors that have the biggest effect on shading. Plant species diversity was documented at each site to compare communities around each pier versus underneath the piers. I found that each height, width, and board spacing can affect the available light underneath piers, with height having the most consistent effect. Analysis on the vegetation community around pier sites did not provide clear results of any broader impacts from the shading effects. The light available underneath piers was measured to be below the irradiance threshold for both S. alterniflorus and J. roemarianus. Potential shading effects may be mitigated by altering construction methods and dimensions. This research is important, as it can tie into management implications directed towards saltmarsh conservation.