Understanding the effects of Hurricane Sandy on Atlantic Coast tidal marshes, wildlife

Last edited 09/05/2019
Contact Information

Contact: Margie Brenner (USFWS), Margie_Brenner@fws.gov, (413) 992-8132

A $1.5 million region-wide science project is helping scientists and resource managers understand the effects of Hurricane Sandy on tidal marshes in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia -- and the wildlife they support -- to inform conservation investments and actions.

A region-wide science project known as the Salt Marsh Habitat Avian Research Project (SHARP) is addressing threats to salt marsh birds from Virginia to Maine. Underway prior to Hurricane Sandy, the project received an additional $1.5 million in Department of the Interior Hurricane Sandy funding coordinated by the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NALCC) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service divisions of Migratory Birds and Refuges to continue the study until 2016. This year, SHARP completed the third round of data collection in the fifth field season in an unprecedented undertaking to characterize threats to tidal-marsh dependent bird species such as the saltmarsh sparrow and clapper rail along the entire mid-Atlantic coastline.

In 2014, tidal marsh bird surveys were completed at more than 2,200 points within more than 1700 tidal marsh locations across the region that were surveyed prior to the storm; marsh-bird breeding productivity and adult survival work was conducted at 21 different tidal marsh locations in six states; and a total of 832 nests were monitored and 1679 birds were banded across these sites. The money not only continues to support SHARP efforts to gauge the effects of climate change on threatened species, but also engages youth and graduate students in hands-on field experience collecting data.  Understanding ecological responses to this extreme storm will ensure that immediate action can be directed to areas that will benefit most in the face of climate change.

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Sandy Resilience - Barn Island Wildlife Management Area, CT 

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