Grace Brush Traces the Bay's Ecological History
A new Maryland Sea Grant book
Cover of Decoding the Deep Sediments: The Ecological History of Chesapeake Bay

THE SEDIMENTS OF CHESAPEAKE BAY harbor a record of the Bay's ecology, from its "natural functioning" thousands of years before European colonization through post-Colonial settlement up to the current, continuing forest clearance across the watershed. Translating that record into a history of ecological change has been the focus of Grace Brush's research at the Johns Hopkins University for more than thirty years.

Brush explains the nature of these studies in her new book, Decoding the Deep Sediments: The Ecological History of Chesapeake Bay, published by Maryland Sea Grant as the fifth installment in our Chesapeake Perspectives series.

Brush takes readers on a tour on the methods and findings of this fascinating work, including accounts of how she and her colleagues analyzed hundreds of core samples they took throughout the Bay. The research has demonstrated how the forest cutting and large-scale land-use changes have affected the estuary's ecosystem by causing massive runoff of sediments and nutrients, all of which have contributed to the decline of water quality. A major effect has been the shift from a Bay ecosystem once dominated by benthic processes to one now dominated by pelagic processes.

Brush, a winner of the Mathias Medal, also writes about how she came to do aquatic research in the first place and about how she and other women scientists of her time had to deal with difficult challenges in male-dominated fields. As Maryland Sea Grant Director Fredrika Moser writes in the foreword, Brush has an important story to tell: "I think all readers will admire her remarkable story, her fortitude, and, not least of all, the students she has attracted to continue this work."

Maryland Sea Grant's Chesapeake Perspectives series features the insights of researchers, scholars, and other thinkers who examined the unique culture and ecology of the Chesapeake Bay. Previous books were written by Edward D. Houde, a fisheries biologist at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; William Matuszeski, former director of the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office; and Erve Chambers and Michael Paolisso, both anthropologists at the University of Maryland at College Park.

To order a copy of Decoding the Deep Sediments, or to find out more about other books in the series, visit the Maryland Sea Grant Bookstore's Chesapeake Perspectives page:

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