Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Sparks, Eric

Committee Member

Pitchford, Jonathan L.

Committee Member

Woodrey, Mark S.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


Salt marshes are important habitats that provide many ecosystem services, but they are susceptible to the impacts of sea level rise (SLR), often resulting in emergent vegetation loss. In areas with enough sediment input, marshes can keep pace with SLR by gaining elevation or through upland migration. However, salt marshes in areas with limited sediment input, such as the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, often cannot keep pace with sea level rise. Additionally, the rate of SLR is increasing making it more difficult for marshes to keep pace. To assess the short-term response of marsh vegetation to sea level rise, percent cover, stem density, and elevation, data from 2016 to 2020 in four different marsh elevation zones were analyzed in this study. Results demonstrated that the four marsh elevation zones are responding disparately to SLR. These findings indicate that it is imperative to implement restoration plans to account for site variability to conserve these vital habitats.