Cooperative Research Units
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Plum Island Ecosystems LTER


August 2010 - December 2017


The Plum Island Ecosystems (PIE) LTER has, since its inception in 1998, been working towards a predictive understanding of the long-term response of coupled land -water ecosystems. The Plum Island Estuary-LTER includes the coupled Parker, Rowley, and Ipswich River watersheds. Over the next four years we will build upon the progress we have made in understanding the importance of spatial patterns and connections across the land-margin ecosystem. Higher trophic levels, such as fish, rely on seascape configurations that create ‘hot spots’ of energy transfer up the food web. At larger scales, striped bass, a top predator, develops two distinct feeding groups–one specializing in feeding on marsh-dependent species and one specializing in pelagic fish in the open bay. This specialized behavior may allow them to become more efficient predators, potentially increasing their top-down control on prey.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 3

Masters Students: 5

Phd Students: 11

Post Docs: 2

University Staff: 1

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 64

Scientific Publications: 28

Presentations: 135



Funding Agencies



Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
  2. Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
  3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  4. U.S. Geological Survey
  5. University of Massachusetts
  6. Wildlife Management Institute