Bringing The World Home To You

© 2023 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
91.5 Chapel Hill 88.9 Manteo 90.9 Rocky Mount 91.1 Welcome 91.9 Fayetteville 90.5 Buxton 94.1 Lumberton 99.9 Southern Pines
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Duke Study: Salt Marshes Depend On Crabs, Snails And Fungus For Preservation
Rob Bixby
RobBixbyPhotography, Flickr Creative Commons

A new study from Duke University shows the importance of maintaining key species to support biodiversity. 

Researchers manipulated the populations of crabs, snails and fungus in a salt marsh in Georgia.  Brian Silliman is an associate professor of marine conservation biology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.  He says each species provides an important function in preserving the marsh. 

“The crabs increase the filtration rate of the marsh by 500 percent and the snails had no effect on the filtration. But the snails were increasing the amount of nutrient cycling by 300 percent,” Silliman says.  “So really it was diversity, but also the quality of diversity -- you needed these highly distantly related species to get those functions that we hold dear and are important to us.”

Silliman says a healthy marsh protects the coastline and fisheries.  He says the next step is to study the role microbes play in salt marshes.

Eric Hodge hosts WUNC’s broadcast of Morning Edition, and files reports for the North Carolina news segments of the broadcast. He started at the station in 2004 doing fill-in work on weekends and All Things Considered.
More Stories