Biologist to discuss 'nature in flux' at wildlife refuge

Courtesy photo Parker River National Wildlife Refuge wildlife biologist Nancy Pau will speak on “Nature in Flux: Managing Change at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge” on Oct. 16.

NEWBURYPORT – A veteran wildlife biologist speaks on “Nature in Flux: Managing Change at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge” on Oct. 16 in a program sponsored by Storm Surge.

Nancy Pau will speak at 7 p.m. in the program at the Newburyport Senior Community Center, 331 High St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Pau has been the wildlife biologist at the refuge on Plum Island for 18 years. During that time, her biggest challenge has been understanding the rapidly changing ecosystem and in particular, the changing hydrology of the salt marsh and the effects that climate change has had on that hydrology.

Pau will give an overview of her work studying the impact that climate change has had with regard to the flow of water within the marsh and she will also address how infrastructure projects sponsored by local communities can affect that hydrology.

“The marsh is such an integral part of our area’s identity and history – it’s part of our heart and soul,’’ Pau said in a press release. “It’s important that the public understand its vulnerability in the face of climate change.”

Pau’s focus on hydrology has led her to examine techniques that address the imbalances caused by climate change and in particular, the more intense storms in the Northeast.

More rainfall often means flooding in the marsh, which can drown and damage wildlife and plants.

When flooding occurs, Pau determines which techniques can be used to create balance and promote the flow of water throughout the marsh.

She works collaboratively with many partners in the area, including Boston University, the University of New Hampshire and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Rowley.

“Together, we try to understand what the marsh needs to survive,’’ she said.

Prior to working at the refuge on Plum Island, Pau worked as the endangered species biologist at the Sacramento field office and as the land acquisition planner in the Northeast regional office. She holds a bachelor of science degree from Cornell University.

The presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session during which participants can ask questions about the hydrology of the marsh, the health of the barrier island and the effects of local infrastructure.

Storm Surge is committed to providing communities in the Greater Newburyport area with the information needed to prepare for the impact of extreme weather and long-term climate change.

For more information about Storm Surge-sponsored events, email stormsurge9@gmail.com.

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