Visiting professor talks about the importance of unique coastal wetlands

Sunday, February 9, 2020 - 3:40pm

Visiting professor Tiffany Schriever lectures about coastal wetlands at the School for Environment & Sustainability Friday afternoon.

Visiting professor Tiffany Schriever lectures about coastal wetlands at the School for Environment & Sustainability Friday afternoon. Buy this photo
Becca Mahon/Daily

As part of the LSA Great Lakes Theme Semester, Tiffany Schriever, assistant biology professor at Western Michigan University, spoke about the importance of coastal wetlands in generating unique biodiversity and conservation opportunities. The lecture took place on Friday afternoon at the Samuel T. Dana Building with about 30 students and professors in attendance.

Schriever’s research focuses on how environmental variation influences community, structure and function within an ecosystem. She said she conducted field studies to learn more about what living things make up the environments around the Great Lakes.

Specifically, Schriever said she is interested in interdunal wetlands, which are wetlands found in low lying areas of dunes or between the switches along the Great Lakes. She said it is necessary to understand the aquatic organisms in that ecosystem to further understand the environment as a whole.

“These are wetlands that have been overlooked even though they are incredibly cool,” Schriever said.

Schriever takes photos of many of the organisms she finds in these wetlands. These photos allow her and those interested in her research to be able to better visualize them than with just graphs and numbers. 

In addition, Schriever is working on discovering the relationship between the wetlands and Lake Michigan.

“We are interested in wondering, at a regional scale, if this gradient could introduce variation in interdunal wetlands,” said Schriever. “On a more local scale, there’s also the environmental gradient that is most well-known to do successional gradient. And, that is, if you move away from the beach and you are given a different vegetative experience than along the coastline.”

Environment and Sustainability graduate student Lavran Pagano said he is interested in conservation issues. He said he especially liked how Schriever’s research is localized to Michigan because it makes it more tangible.

“This is a required class for me and the speakers are very interesting now,” Pagano said. “We have a great GSI, I have to say. It’s a very good discussion and I’ve learned a lot so far.”

Music, Theater & Dance sophomore Vera Ting said she attended the event after seeing a flyer for it. Ting found the event intriguing and said she was able to learn about the many different types of organisms she has taken interest in.

“So I guess what attracted me here was the image of the damselfly,” Ting said. “I am interested in research involving various organisms and their relationship with wetland habitats.” 

Daily staff reporter Brayden Hirsch can be reached at braydenh@umich.edu