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Interview: What’s Damaging U.S.
Salt Marshes and Why It Matters

For centuries, salt marshes along the U.S. coast have been disappearing, with some experts estimating
Linda Deegan MBL
MBL
Linda Deegan
that 70 percent have been lost to development, rising seas, and other threats. One factor scientists always thought marshes could withstand was nutrient enrichment — such as the flow of nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers and septic systems. But a nine-year study led by Marine Biological Laboratory scientist Linda Deegan showed that an over abundance of nutrients may be contributing to the demise of these salt marshes. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, Deegan describes the implications of this study and the vital services that would be lost if marshes disappear — from nourishing marine species to providing a physical barrier for coastal communities during storms such as Hurricane Sandy.
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