(Click to enlarge) Marsh grass can be strengthened by mussels (Credit: Jack Keene / Wikimedia)
As coastal ecosystems feel the heat of climate change worldwide, new research shows the humble mussel and marsh grass form an intimate interaction known as mutualism that benefits both partner species and may be critical to helping these ecosystems bounce back from extreme climatic events such as drought.
(From Phys.org)– The study, led by the University of Florida, finds that when mussels pile up in mounds around the grass stems, they provide protection by improving water storage around the grass roots and reducing soil salinity. Mussels protect grasses from drought by improving water storage around the grass roots and reducing soil salinity. With mussels’ help, the study found, marshes can recover from drought in less than a decade. Without, it can take more than century.
“It’s a story of mutual benefit between marsh grass and mussels,” said Christine Angelini, an assistant professor of environmental engineering sciences in UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and lead author on the paper. The mussels, she said, “protect and then accelerate the healing of drought-stricken marshes.” Saving the marshes has not only environmental benefits but also economic ones.
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