Leader: Kirsten Johnson and Jane Hill
We will explore the dynamics of this barrier island and, time permitting, visit all three of the island’s major habitats: salt marsh, forest, and dune. In the marsh, we will note the changes in species that occur with slight changes in elevation, especially the grasses that grow at different tidal levels. Spartina grasses are among the most important of all wild plants because they support a vast array of seashore animals and furnish nutrients for coastal bays and coastlines. In the marsh we will see the bright red stems of glasswort (Salicornia sp.), sea lavendar (Limonium carolinianum) and black needlerush (Juncus roemerianus), and in high marsh areas, marsh-elder (Iva frutescens), groundsel tree (Baccharis halimifolia), and marsh fleabane (Pluchea odorata; its pinkish-lavender blossoms may be on display). On the dunes, we will observe how the harsh environment of salt-laden winds and shifting sands has shaped the plant communities, whose members include American beachgrass (Ammophila breviligulata), beach “heather” (Hudsonia tomentosa), eastern prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa), and northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica ). Dune plants that may be flowering at this time include seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens), seabeach evening primrose (Oenothera humifusa), and purple gerardia (Agalinis maritima). Assateague has been stable long enough, with areas back enough from the ocean, that forest has become established on old, open duneland. The forest canopy is dominated by Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda), with Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), Red Maple (Acer rubrum), and oaks also present. In areas where light penetrates the canopy, there is arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum), serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), and highbush blueberry (Vaccinium atrococcum).
Start and end times are subject to change. Final details will be available at the conference.
Registration is restricted to the fall conference attendees. You can select this field trip when you register for the conference.
Fall Conference information
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