The Future of Site Profiles: An Innovative Cross-Sector Approach to Incorporating End User and Reserve Needs

Each reserve within the National Estuarine Research Reserve system develops and maintains a site profile that synthesizes knowledge about its physical and biological characteristics to guide research and monitoring activities. Traditionally, the site profile has been a book or PDF. The likely future addition of new reserves into the system and the anticipated need to update many existing reserve site profiles has brought renewed attention to the site profile product and sparked interest in adopting a modernized format that can better align with and boost the impact of reserve programs. Over the past year, He’eia and Lake Superior reserves have begun the process of reimagining their site profiles and exploring digital formats that can organize data and research spatially and are easy to update. Their joint vision includes an adaptable site profile template and end user driven interface design that will create opportunities to connect with broad audiences through place-based storytelling.

In this project, Lake Superior and He’eia reserves will take the next step to design a dynamic site profile platform that can be customized for use by reserves throughout the National Estuarine Research Reserve system. The project team will support an end user evaluation to determine site profile content needs, employ geospatial web development expertise to create a new digital site profile template, create model site profile products for Lake Superior and He’eia reserves, and develop education and coastal training curricular extensions to help reserves utilize site profiles with key audiences. By making site profiles more accessible and targeted to end user needs, the project will support increased public engagement and awareness of work at reserves and provide researchers a fuller understanding of estuary conditions and opportunities to improve ecological resilience.