Plum Island Ecosystems


42° 45' 32.4" N, 70° 53' 27.6" W
Brief Site Description: 
PIE LTER studies the long-term response of coupled land-estuary-ocean ecosystems to changes in climate, sea level, and human activities.
Detailed Site Description: 

Habitat - Atlantic coastal estuary

The Plum Island Ecosystems (PIE) LTER is an integrated research, education and outreach program whose goal is to develop a predictive understanding of the long-term response of watershed and estuarine ecosystems at the land-sea interface to changes in three key drivers: climate, sea level and human activities. The PIE-LTER was established in 1998. Our principal study site is the Plum Island Sound estuary and its watersheds located in eastern Massachusetts north of

The Plum Island Estuary-LTER includes the coupled Parker, Rowley, and Ipswich River watersheds, estuarine areas including a shallow open sound, and extensive tidal marshes. PIE is connected to the Gulf of Maine in the Acadian biogeographic province, which is a cold water, macrotidal environment that is geographically and biologically distinct from coastal ecosystems to the south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Research questions are currently focused around two themes:
1) What controls the spatial arrangements and connectivity between ecological habitat patches in the
coastal zone?
2) How do the spatial arrangement and the connectivity between ecological habitat patches in coastal
watersheds and the estuarine seascape influence ecological processes?

Field Site Type: 
US affiliate
unconsolidated materials
Soil Order: 
Average Winter Temperature: 
Study Start Date: 
Wednesday, January 1, 1992 - 00:00
Mean Annual Precipitation: 
1 188millimeters / year
Average Annual Temperature: 
Average Summer Temperature: 
Hydrology: Name: 
Parker River
Hydrology: Surface water stream order: 
Hydrology: Surface water - Stream Flow Performance: 
Hydrology: Groundwater: 
Arrangment of Aquifer Components - Single, dominant unconfined aquifer
Land Cover: 
Developed- High
Deciduous Forest
Woody Wetlands
Group visibility: 
Public - accessible to all site users