A primary function of the Reserve is to support and conduct original research. Research is conducted in-house by Reserve staff scientists, who also lend logistical and other support to visiting scientists conducting their own research in the Reserve.
Currently, most in-house research conducted by the Reserve focuses on salt marshes, with an emphasis on how marshes are changing and responding to sea-level rise. Much of this work builds upon long-term marsh monitoring as part of the SWMP Sentinel Sites program. Specific recent research projects include 1) a before-after-control-impact field experiment to quantify the effects of excavating new drainage channels to alleviate marsh waterlogging, 2) a multi-year collaborative research project with EPA in Narragansett, RI to better understand causes and effects of expanding crab populations on RI marshes, and 3) a multi-reserve collaboration to develop a new tool for quantifying and comparing relative marsh resilience to sea-level rise.
Despite the logistical challenges of conducting research on an island, visiting scientists continue to utilize the Reserve as a research platform. Research conducted by visiting scientists is predictably diverse and occurs in habitats stretching from upland to estuary. Some current and recent researchers to the Reserve come from Brown University, Bryant University, Drexel University, Tufts, University, and the Virginia institute of Marine Sciences, among many others. A complete list of reports and publications by visiting researchers can be find here.