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Predicting Sediment Flow in Coastal Vegetation
Seagrass, kelp beds, mangroves, and other aquatic vegetation are often considered “ecosystem engineers” for their ability to essentially create their own habitats: Aquatic leaves and reeds slow the flow of water, encouraging sediments to settle nearby to form a foundation on which more plants can grow.

Such underwater forests provide shelter to hundreds of organisms, and can also protect shorelines from erosion. However, in the last few decades, large swaths of aquatic vegetation have disappeared around the world, including 100 million acres of wetlands, and thousands of acres of seagrass and kelp beds, in the United States.

Now researchers at MIT have developed a simple model that can help scientists understand how and when sediments move through a region of aquatic vegetation, such as a wetland. The researchers say engineers may use this model to design better ways to restore seagrass, mangroves, and other underwater plant beds.




 
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