Student Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Honors Designation


Program of Study




First Advisor

Chester Zarnoch


Coastal wetlands perform valuable functions by protecting shorelines from floodwaters and storm surges, providing habitats for marine species, and improving local water quality. Unfortunately, over half of the area of global wetlands has been lost over the past century. Locally, in Jamaica Bay (Queens, NY), loss of wetlands has exceeded 98%. Restoration of Jamaica Bay marshes began in 2003. Ribbed mussels, Geukensia demissa, live symbiotically with marsh plants and have been shown to stabilize sediments and provide organic nutrients that enhance marsh plant growth. Mussels are suspension feeders, which collect algae from seawater and deposit organic matter in marsh sediments. Organic matter may increase rates of microbial nitrogen removal via denitrification, a critical ecosystem service. For these reasons, mussels may be important to the success of coastal wetland restoration. Ribbed mussel size and abundance data at both restored and unrestored marsh islands was analyzed for better understanding of mussel recruitment at sites over time. Increases and decreases in abundance and size distribution of the mussels has been linked to their location on restored and unrestored marshes. The analyses of the ribbed mussel gut microbiome demonstrated the physiological connection of the bivalve to its environment. Data in multiple areas supported the importance of ribbed mussel populations at the Jamaica Bay wetlands.


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