Coastal habitats capture more carbon than forests, protect us against rising seas and storms, and provide livelihoods to millions. More than half the world’s population lives near coasts and rivers, calling these habitats home. Yet around the world they are on the decline.

On Virginia’s Eastern Shore, researchers from UVA and six other institutions are pushing the limits of what science can do. “This is a perfect place for understanding the resilience of these environments,” says Professor Karen McGlathery.

Disappearing Act

The coastal habitats of many of Virginia’s barrier islands have shrunk dramatically since 1984.

Asking More of Research

Protecting coastal environments for the long-term requires a host of approaches. UVA researchers are working on several: living barriers, revitalized seagrass meadows, and a better balance between predator and prey.

Research Professor Peter Berg has designed new devices that gather more accurate data. “Now we can get deeper insights into how these ecosystems function, which helps us better protect them,” says Berg.

When We Ask More, We Strengthen the Environment