The Pressure is Rising: Climate Change, Humans, & the Future of Barrier Islands
Barrier islands represent the intersection of changing weather, sea-level, species migration, and human influence. They represent the first line of defense against ocean-side flooding and storm surge along much of the US Atlantic Coast, yet these systems are highly vulnerable to changing climate. Warming temperatures and species invasions are modifying the native vegetation, while rising sea levels, increased storms, and human pressures threaten the future stability of these landscapes. Understanding the natural roles and services provided by barrier islands and their constituent organisms is fundamental for addressing management, conservation, and response to climate change.
Guest Presenter: Dr. Julie Zinnert, Coastal Plant Ecologist, Virginia Commonwealth University
Thursday, March 23rd
Dr. Julie C. Zinnert runs the Coastal Plant Ecology Lab at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has worked in coastal systems since 2001, with a focus on the barrier islands of Virginia and North Carolina. Her research centers on plant interactions with biotic and abiotic factors in the context of global change across spatial and temporal scales in coastal systems. The importance of sea-level rise, alterations in storm frequency, and temperature changes are at the forefront in explaining long-term changes in coastal plant communities. Trained as a plant physiological ecologist, she is interested in understanding the mechanisms responsible for individual species distributions under various environmental conditions to inform predictions for response to climate change. She is a creative person and spends much of her non-working time knitting, sewing, designing, gardening, dyeing yarn with native plants, and traveling while raising two wonderful children.