Understanding Coastal Ghost Forests . . . Before They Die

Science on Tap
Monday, August 8, 2022
6:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. EDT (UTC -4)

This month’s Science on Tap virtual talk explores how climate and sea level are affecting American holly trees in a low-elevation forest along the St. Jones River in Delaware.


American holly tree

American holly (Ilex opaca).

Courtesy of Science on Tap Philly

Sea-level rise is causing more frequent saltwater floods at higher and higher elevations near the coast. More frequent saltwater flooding puts trees like American holly (Ilex opaca) at risk of death. This expansion of the mortality of trees in these low-lying areas along our coasts has created a landscape of ghost forests.

In addition to causing sea-level rise, climate change is leading to warmer temperatures and shifts in precipitation patterns. Different tree species are adapted for specific seasonal temperatures and need adequate moisture, but interactions among saltwater flooding, temperatures, and precipitation could be complicated.

Although death might be inevitable, what factors are affecting tree growth before they die? Could knowing those factors help estuary managers mitigate or plan for the future?

This event is free, but registration is required.

About the Speaker


LeeAnn Haaf

Courtesy of LeeAnn Haaf

LeeAnn Haaf, a recent PhD graduate of Drexel University’s Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Science department, studies the effects of climate change and sea-level rise on low-lying tree growth in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. She is the estuary science manager at the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.

About the Series

Science on Tap is a monthly virtual speaker series that features brief, informal presentations by Philadelphia-based scientists and other experts followed by lively conversation and a Q&A. The goal is to promote enthusiasm for science in a fun, spirited, and accessible way, while also meeting new people. Come join the conversation!