Samantha Chapman, PhD, associate professor of Biology in Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has received a 3-year, $552,632 grant from the National Science Foundation to further develop her research—originally part of a NASA-funded study—on how mangrove trees will respond to a changing climate and help protect U.S. coastlines against rising seas.
The project is titled, “The Influence of Mangrove Invasion and Rising Temperatures on Belowground Processes in Coastal Ecosystems.” Mangroves are tropical trees that grow in coastal intertidal zones, notable for their dense tangles of prop roots which serve as highly effective shields for coastlines by reducing the force of breaking waves, decreasing erosion and increasing sediment deposition. These trees are rapidly moving northward in Florida due to the lack of hard freezes. Once there, they change habitats previously dominated by salt marshes into mangrove swamps.
The research team, which includes Dr. Chapman’s Villanova colleague Adam Langley, PhD, associate professor of Biology, will investigate how Florida wetlands, both marshes and mangroves, continue to protect people as both temperatures and seas rise. Their research results will have ecological and educational implications—informing federal, state and local land managers about the changing coastal protection value of their lands and educating visitors about these coastal landscapes. This grant will also allow new undergraduate and graduate researchers to get hands-on involvement in the Chapman research group.
“The research that Dr. Chapman and her colleagues are conducting is instrumental to environmental sustainability,” says Adele Lindenmeyr, PhD, dean, Villanova University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “The opportunity for our students to also assist with such innovative research is yet another example of our teacher-scholar model in action. Our faculty consistently invite undergraduate and graduate students to collaborate with them on research.”
Dr. Chapman is an accomplished researcher whose work contributes to finding possible solutions to reversing biodiversity loss. Dr. Langley is an expert in how ecosystems respond to, and may play a part in, global and environmental change.
About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.