Invasive species, such as the common reed Phragmites australis, pose significant threats to local ecosystems by outcompeting native flora and displacing indigenous habitat. Recently, UNC Institute of Marine Sciences (UNC IMS) graduate student Mollie Yacano was selected to be a recipient of a North Carolina Sea Grant and Albemarle Pamlico Estuary Partnership joint fellowship to study Phragmites throughout the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System. Yacano’s advisor is Dr. Michael Piehler, Interim Director at the UNC Coastal Studies Institute and Professor at UNC IMS.
Yacano’s research will focus on how nitrogen in processed in the sediments of Phragmites australis compared to areas dominated by native grasses. Understanding nitrogen cycling within these systems is important as coastal marshes play an important role in buffering local receiving waters from excess nitrogen. Yacano’s work will aid in our understanding of how these non-native grasses affect the function our coastal marsh systems. With CSI’s strategic location in the heart of the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system, much of Yacano’s work will happen out of the Institute’s campus site located on Roanoke Island.
For more information on the award, please visit: https://ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/news/2017/10/nc-sea-grant-and-apnep-name-2018-fellow/?platform=hootsuite