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NEWS BRIEF: Wild hogs threaten Georgia coast, research says

Hogs plunder mollusk habitat

Carolina, Ossabaw Island Hog
Photo credit: Cliff/wikipedia
Ossabaw Island hog
The Georgia coastline has long been home to feral hogs who prey on the fragile nests of sea turtles. Now, these same hogs are making coastal marshes more vulnerable to climate change, new research shows. The drought-resistant marshes and their tough grasses form a line of defense, helping to prevent coastal erosion and mitigating the effects of storms; they are aided and abetted by mollusks known as ribbed mussels that are being targeted by the hogs. “They’re sort of like an armor that protects marshes from the big climate effects,” said Marc Hensel with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Hogs specifically plunder the mussels’ habitat, thus obliterating them from places such as Sapelo Island. Marshes invaded by hogs take three times longer in recovering from drought, and are far more exposed to the rise in sea levels, Hensel said. wabe.org