3Novices:Gardening worms and climate change undermine natural coastal protection

Dikes could be lower if they are protected against the waves by grassy marshes. But the protective salt marsh grass is struggling to stay alive, and this is not only due to increasingly stronger waves in the face of climate change. Another serious threat to marshes is caused by ragworms: sophisticated gardeners were discovered to turn inedible, tough grass seeds into succulent, nutritious sprouts in their burrows. While the sprout-growing worms thrive on this superfood diet, their cultivation techniques prevent many seeds from growing into salt marsh vegetation, thus undermining the use of salt marshes for ‘natural’ coastal protection. This finding could help to outsmart the ragworms and make managing salt marshes more effective. Instead of planting seeds, successful restoration of marshes could be jump started by planting bigger plants,which are not eaten by the worms.
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