Desdemona had this story about disappearing salt marshes in Cape Cod. These particular scientists are investigating whether a burgeoning crab population is eating the grass.
However this earlier story published by the National Park Service in 2006 makes note that in fact, marshes have been dying all over New England and as far south as Georgia for some time. That article postulates all sorts of reasons for "sudden wetland dieback," many of which have been ruled out - but it is obviously far more extensive than can be accounted by a crab problem on the Cape.
Credit: NPS, Stephen Smith
Oddly enough, not one of the possible influences mentioned has anything to do with atmospheric pollution. Given that all the trees, shrubs, and other plants around Cape Cod (as documented here and here last August) and for that matter in Cambridge last March here) exhibit the symptoms of exposure to toxic levels of atmosphere ozone, I really think they should at least consider it!
"In Cape Cod National Seashore, mudflats now replace as much as 12% of emergent marsh. In fact, Cape Cod appears to be the "epicenter" of salt-marsh dieback in the Northeast."
It is all too familiar for scientists to look for proximate causes for forest decline - insects, invasive species, fungus, disease, extreme weather. Sure, all those things happen. But when so much vegetation is suddenly subject to "Sudden Death Something" [insert, apsen, oak, maple, sycamore, beech, etc., see list here and photos here] and in addition to unexplained crop failures (and that was 2009 - just wait for this season!) and now I discover we have Sudden Wetland Dieback being blamed on crabs - well, it just seems logical that if vegetation OF ALL SORTS is dying then there must be a broader cause than individual, species-specific pests, disease and fungus - all of which are documented to be exacerbated by exposure to ozone, by the way. The question for me is - what do all plants have in common? They must photosynthesize and produce chlorophyll. What is well-known - and ubiquitous - that impedes that ability? Ozone.
But for a scientist to even raise that question would intrinsically require a fundamental challenge to our entire capitalistic, profit-driven, fuel-guzzling brain-dead consumerist modus operandi. And who is willing to risk that?