For the last year- since the inception of the In the Grass, On the Reef project, Dr. Randall Hughes has been conducting an experiment in St. Joseph Bay, Florida. She's been looking at whether smooth cordgrass, which is the foundation of a coastal salt marsh, is healthier when found alongside needlerush. She had noticed that when she encountered the two plants next to each other, the periwinkle snails that eat cordgrass were more numerous, yet the plants were healthier. What's the connection? The results could help in salt marsh restoration, where it might be beneficial the different plant species a certain way. When you consider what marshes do to shelter commercially important fish, shrimp and crab species, what they do to prevent erosion, and how they aid in cleaning the water, it might pay to know whether cordgrass is benefitted by growing next to needlerush.
Read about the start of the experiment (and watch a video):