Collaborative Science for Estuaries Webinar Series

Chesapeake Bay Virginia - Photo credit: David Walters

Join us for monthly webinars featuring project teams supported by the NERRS Science Collaborative. Speakers will share their unique approaches to addressing current coastal and estuarine management issues. Learn about new methods to integrate technical experts and users of project outputs into the research process, and how their research results and products might inform your work. Be sure to check back periodically and download the webinar briefs to view summary notes and presentation slides from past webinars.

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Upcoming Webinars

KBNERR MS Webinar
May 23, 2019, 3:00-4:30pm EDT - Ellie Flaherty and Julia Wondolleck
 
 

Past Webinars

New Research to Inform Living Shoreline Design, Placement and Monitoring
April 11, 2019, 3:30-4:30pm EDT - Panel

Download: Draft Management Brief: Collaborative Research to Advance the Use of Living Shorelines

Download: Panel Webinar Session Outline

Living shoreline techniques can be effective tools for bolstering coastal habitats, controlling erosion, and protecting coastal areas from the impacts of storms, sea level rise and boat wakes. Under the right conditions, they can provide a variety of services while being cost-competitive with traditional approaches, such as bulkheads. Despite their potential, living shoreline designs are not applied as broadly or effectively as might be expected.

Members of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) and partners, in part supported by Science Collaborative resources, have been studying how different living shoreline designs perform in a variety of coastal locations from Mississippi to New York, and have been developing tools to enhance the use of these techniques.

This webinar: a) facilitated a candid panel discussion of the lessons learned, management implications and next steps related to a series of applied research projects; and b) gave audience members the opportunity to engage and ask questions about opportunities and challenges associated with living shorelines.

About the Speakers

Christine Angelini, Assistant Professor in Environmental Engineering Sciences, University of Florida
Christine’s research and teaching focuses on community ecology and restoration engineering in a variety of coastal habitats. In partnership with GTM Reserve in Florida, she has been testing a hybrid design for protecting oyster and salt marsh habitats from boat wakes in the busy intercoastal waterway. Learn more about project

Stuart Findlay, Aquatic Ecologist, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Stuart has been conducting research on the Hudson River ecosystem for over eighteen years with an emphasis on carbon and nutrient cycling in freshwater and tidal habitats and watershed restoration issues. Stuart has led several Science Collaborative grants related to sustainable shoreline designs and monitoring approaches in the Hudson River Valley. Learn more about project

Jennifer Raulin, Manager, Chesapeake Bay-Maryland National Estuarine Research Reserve
Jenn oversees the Chesapeake Bay Reserve’s research, training, stewardship, and education sectors.  Her responsibilities include serving as the primary liaison with NOAA to manage grants and advancing coastal management practices with partners in and around the reserve’s three protected areas. Jenn brings a management perspective to the panel discussion, helping explore the applications of shoreline research projects for other reserves and regions.

Denise Sanger, Research Coordinator, ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve
Denise is a marine ecologist with expertise in benthic ecology, sediment chemistry, water quality, ecological risk assessment, and the application of science to management. She oversees long term monitoring and a range of applied research efforts at ACE Basin Reserve and has studied the performance of living shorelines all along the coast of South Carolina. Learn more about project

Eric Sparks, Assistant Extension Professor, Mississippi State University
Eric is the assistant director for outreach for Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and he focuses on estuarine and wetland issues, including coastal restoration and restoration research. He’s worked on two Science Collaborative projects assessing living shoreline use along the Gulf Coast. Learn more about project

Moderator:

Jennifer Read,  NERRS Science Collaborative program manager, and Director, University of Michigan Water Center
Jen serves as the Science Collaborative's principal investigator, provides overall program leadership, and manages the day-to-day activities of the Science Collaborative program. She also serves as the Director of the University of Michigan Water Center, and drove implementation of the Integrated Assessment program while working for Michigan Sea Grant.

How to Update Reserve Visitor Centers and Create Workforce Ready Students at the Same Time
March 12, 2019 - Maggie Pletta

Technology has become an integral part of environmental education, however purchasing or producing technology can be very cost prohibitive. As part of a NERRS Science Collaborative Science Transfer grant, the Delaware, Guana Tolomato Matanzas, and Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserves (the clients) partnered with the University of Delaware Introduction to Software Engineering course (the consultants). As part of their coursework, students produced educational computer games that promote interactive, free-choice learning opportunities. Maggie Pletta, Education Coordinator from Delaware NERR, provided insights about the process that led to the selection of student-developed educational games installed in the three centers, including the benefits and challenges of working with students.

About the Speaker: 
Maggie Pletta is the current Education Coordinator at the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) where she is tasked with managing and leading K-12 fieldtrips and outreach, public programs, family events, and teacher professional development workshops.  Prior to her position at DNERR she held positions at the National Park Service, NASA, Educational Non-Profits, and DNREC’s Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program.  Her professional areas of interest include teaching people about estuaries and climate change, as well as  reconnecting children with nature, and making science fun for all ages.

Learn more about: Undergraduates Develop Job Skills by Creating Interactive Software for Reserve Visitors

New Technology for Old problems: Exploring the Use of eDNA in the Reserve System
February 14, 2019 - Alison Watts and Bree Yednock

Download: Webinar Brief

Environmental DNA (eDNA), or DNA present in an environmental sample, is emerging as a powerful tool to detect species present in an ecosystem without having to actually capture and identify individual organisms. Fish, invertebrates, and other animals shed DNA, through fragments of tissue and reproductive and waste products, into the environment in which they live. Alison and Bree presented initial results from a pilot eDNA monitoring program being developed and tested at several National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) sites in New England and Oregon. Sampling was conducted in coordination with traditional monitoring programs to validate species identification and detection limits.

This webinar was an opportunity for the research team to engage reserves considering eDNA monitoring, and compare notes with other researchers and natural resource managers using eDNA approaches.

About the Speaker: 
Dr. Alison Watts conducts research on water resources at the University of New Hampshire.  Bree Yednock, Jason Goldstein, Chris Peter and others from South Slough, Wells and Great Bay NERRs guide the application of this project within each of their Reserves.

Dr. Bree Yednock has expertise in population genetics of estuarine organisms, molecular techniques, and bioinformatics. Her previous projects include a characterization of fish and invertebrate assemblages of the Coos estuary and an assessment of the local distribution and population structure of invasive European green crabs.

Learn more about: Developing DNA methods to monitor invasive species

What Usable Science Means and How It Can Be Achieved: Lessons from NERRS Through the Years
January 23, 2019 - James Arnott

Download: Webinar Brief

Since 1998, NERRS has provided competitive funding to generate usable knowledge for coastal and estuarine management. The program’s evolution—and the insights from those participating in it—can teach us much about what usable knowledge looks like on the ground and the ways to make it through collaboration. In this webinar, James Arnott recapped his research based on examining 120 past NERRS funded projects and interviewing 40 of their participants. The practical lessons derived from this work suggest that teams of researchers and users working together in collaboration might consider a series of seemingly simple—but often difficult to answer questions—in the process of their work. Questions like: Who are the users? What is use? How do you report on use? What strategies lead to use? What are the benefits of usable knowledge? The history of NERRS research accomplishments demonstrates how many and varied answers to these questions emerge and the importance of taking into account careful consideration of that diversity in planning future projects and programs. 

About the Speaker: 
James Arnott is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan and Associate Director of the Aspen Global Change Institute. James has worked closely with the NERR System during the completion of his doctoral thesis on topics related to science funding, the use of science, and climate change adaptation. In 2011, James was awarded the McCloy Fellowship in Environmental Policy and in 2009 James received a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from Principia College.

Learn more about: Understanding the Drivers of Usability

Effects of Sea Level Rise on New England Salt Marshes
October 23, 2018 - Jennifer West

Download: Webinar Brief

The New England NERRs developed and delivered a workshop on sea level rise and salt marshes, strengthening NERRS connections while providing an important information sharing opportunity for the larger community. The workshop increased knowledge of the regional status and trends of salt marsh condition; increased awareness of partnership and collaboration opportunities; improved connections between research, management, and restoration sectors; created a more robust information sharing network; and increased awareness of NERRs as unique sites suitable for long-term research and management “test beds” for management strategies.

About the Speaker: 
Jennifer West has been the Coastal Training Program Coordinator with the Narragansett Bay Research Reserve since 2005. In this position, she develops and delivers training events and technical assistance programs for municipal officials and other decision-maker audiences on topics related to water quality, habitat protection, and climate change. Jennifer has expertise in program design, management, and evaluation; communicating science to diverse audiences; meeting facilitation; and planning and implementing collaborative methods for engaging stakeholders in successfully addressing environmental issues.

Learn more about: Effects of Sea Level Rise on New England Salt Marshes

Trend Analysis of SWMP Temperature with Missing Data
September 19, 2018 - Dr. Thomas Grothues

Download: Webinar Brief

The National Estuarine Research Reserves’ System-wide Monitoring Program  (SWMP) data can contribute to research and discussion on climate change. The treatment of temperature data is of particular concern when applied to the analysis of interannual trends. Seasonal cycles can impose fluctuations that greatly exceed diurnal, tidal, or event-scale fluctuations, and seasonally skewed distribution of missing data biases calculations of annual or seasonal means. 

This webinar provided insights on encoded algorithms for measuring temperature trends, including the conservative approach of replacing missing temperature data with smoothed day-of-the-year averages and seasonal decomposition as well as the benefits and disadvantages of alternative approaches. 

About the Speaker: 
Dr. Thomas Grothues has a Research Faculty appointment as a fish ecologist at Rutgers University and begins as Research Coordinator for Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve System in Fall 2019. He has been using SWMP data in peer-reviewed publications about fish habitat use, migration, and recruitment since 2007.

Learn more about: Developing New Ways to Analyze Reserve Monitoring Data

A Tool to Evaluate Coastal Habitat Vulnerability to Climate Change
July 17, 2018 - Dr. Jennifer Plunket and Robin Weber

Download: Webinar Brief

The National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System created the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Tool for Coastal Habitats (CCVATCH) to help land managers, decision makers, and researchers develop conservation, management, and restoration plans for coastal habitats in light of climate change. Reserves in New England and North and South Carolina shared the results from recent assessments they conducted. The presentation demonstrated how CCVATCH serves as an evaluation process to identify sources of vulnerability, provides a greater understanding of the potential impacts of climate change alone and in relation to existing non-climate stressors, and identifies data gaps and research needs. 

About the Speakers: 
Robin Weber has been engaged in the development of the CCVATCH from its inception and served first as an Applied Science Investigator and then as Project Lead in two funded projects designed to pilot test and implement CCVATCH at multiple locations. As a Stewardship Coordinator within the NERRS for 18 years, Ms. Weber applies science to the management and restoration of a variety of habitat types on Reserve properties and works with partners to enhance stewardship of managed lands more broadly within the State of Rhode Island.
 
Dr. Plunket initially proposed the idea of developing a climate vulnerability assessment tool designed for coastal habitats in 2011. Since then she has led a workgroup that developed the CCVATCH, served as the principal investigator on a Science Collaborative funded project to pilot test the tool, and trained staff in the CCVATCH process at NERRA/NERRS meetings. As Stewardship Coordinator at the North Inlet-Winyah Bay  NERR, Dr. Plunket works on a variety of projects directed toward the long-term conservation of the North Inlet and Winyah Bay estuaries.

Learn more about: Assessing How Climate Change Will Affect Coastal Habitats in the Northeast

Are Small Coastal Businesses Thinking About Disaster Preparedness?
June 21, 2018 - Annie Cox

Download: Webinar Brief

Coastal businesses, a powerful economic engine for Maine, are generally little prepared for storm surge and coastal flooding. Yet lessons learned from previous disasters underscore how important the recovery of businesses is to the overall recovery of a region’s economy.

The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve collaborated with the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Kennebunkport through a NERRS Science Collaborative grant, to help business owners assess their vulnerability to the impacts of a natural disaster using the Tourism Resilience Index. The Index was developed by Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and adapted for New England. Best practices identified by businesses and lessons-learned from the project will be shared.

This webinar will be led by Annie Cox, the Coastal Training Program Coordinator at Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Maine

Learn more about: Decreasing Vulnerability in Maine’s Beaches Business Community

Building Research Skills in K-12 Students: The Virginia Scientists and Educators Alliance
May 31, 2018 - Sarah Nuss

Download: Webinar Brief

Educators from the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia (CBNERR), and Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s (VIMS) Marine Advisory Program created the Virginia Scientists and Educators Alliance (VA SEA), a network of graduate students, teachers, and informal educators. The project addressed the significant need for teaching resources and professional development that assist teachers in better demonstrating to their students the research practices of scientists, and how they apply to critical thinking skills. Through this webinar, Sarah Nuss discussed how educators transferred scientific research into usable lesson plans and outreach activities. She also discuss ways that environmental educators can mentor K-12 teachers in incorporating research-based lesson plans in the classroom on their own.

Sarah Nuss is Education Coordinator at Chesapeake Bay-Virginia National Estuarine Research Reserve. Chesapeake Bay-VA NERR is based out of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary.

Learn more about: Creating an Alliance of Scientists and Educators in Virginia

Assessing Collaboration Potential in the Saco River Watershed: A Multidisciplinary Graduate Student-Reserve Project
April 11, 2018 - Sophia Paul, Katie Pritchard, Dr. Julia Wondolleck, and Dr. Chris Feurt

Download: Webinar Brief

Sophia Paul and Katie Pritchard were part of a Master's Project team of four graduate students from University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) working for the Wells Reserve to provide recommendations on the formation of a Saco River Watershed Collaborative. Master's Projects are interdisciplinary capstone experiences that enable U-M SEAS master's students to develop solutions to pressing problems faced by real-world clients. Wells NERR, the client for this project, is facilitating an effort to create a stakeholder network within the watershed and engaged the student team to conduct a situation assessment in order to assess residents' values and aspirations for the watershed, perceptions of issues, and interest in greater collaboration. Katie and Sophia provided an overview of the impetus for the project, their methods, their findings, and deliverables provided to Wells NERR. Their research supports the creation of a broader stakeholder network within the watershed, which could create more coordinated conservation and education efforts.

Sophia Paul is a second year Master's student at the University of Michigan in Environmental Planning and Environmental Justice focusing on community engaged processes and food justice.

Katie Pritchard is a second year Master's student at the University of Michigan studying Conservation Ecology and Environmental Policy & Planning.

Learn more about: Leveraging a U-M Master's Project team

Buffer Options for the Bay: An In-depth Look at the Use of Vegetated Buffers in New Hampshire
March 27, 2018 - Cory Riley

Download: Webinar Brief

Buffers intersect with a range of activities including land acquisition, management, and protection; restoration; community engagement; and policy making. Underpinning such decisions are tradeoffs that impact economic vitality, environmental health, and community well-being. To help decision makers navigate these tradeoffs and understand their options for action, the project team conducted an integrated assessment, aggregating existing physical and social science data; conducting a policy analysis; quantifying potential willingness to pay for management options based on water quality benefits; assessed values, knowledge, and assumptions at the community level; and then integrating these findings into a series of reports, maps, a website, and an action plan. 

Cory Riley, project lead and Reserve Manager at Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (Southeastern New Hampshire), will share the team's findings and experience.

Learn more about the project: Buffers for the Bay website

See: Project Page

The Role of Environmental Monitoring and Data Management in Supporting Science to Inform Decision Making: Integrating Coastal and Ocean Monitoring Programs to Address Societal Needs
February 28, 2018, - Dr. Dwayne Porter

Download: Webinar Brief

A goal of NOAA’s National Ocean Service is to increase coastal intelligence with a commitment to integrating scientifically-defensible data, models, and decision-support tools to improve the ability of decision makers scaling from federal agencies to the private individual. Implementation and maintenance of robust data management and communications infrastructures are critical challenges for development of successful collaborative scientific and management initiatives. The development of the data and information management components of coastal and ocean observing system initiatives must address both core and cooperating programs’ data and information exchange while meeting the needs of the end users. This webinar provided an overview of the necessity for and benefits of a sound data management program. Examples were provided to illustrate instances where management decisions have benefited from decision support tools that make use of data integrated across multiple coastal and ocean monitoring programs.

Dwayne Porter is Director of the Centralized Data Management Office for the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) at the Baruch Marine Institute, University of South Carolina.

See: Project Page

Successful Adaptation Indicators and Metrics Project: From Pilots to System-wide Benefit
January 10, 2018 - Dr. Susi Moser

Download: Webinar Brief

In the face of escalating impacts from climate change, the question of adaptation success is a practical and moral imperative. But, how dowe know whether adaptation to climate variability and change in the coastal zone is actually occurring, and whether the adaptive actions taken are good,useful, and effective? The Successful Adaptation Indicators & Metrics (SAIM) project has worked  collaboratively with five reserves (Wells NERR, Hudson River NERR, Jacques Cousteau NERR, Tijuana River NERR, and Kachemak Bay NERR) and their stakeholders over the past 4 years to help answer these questions. Specifically, the project has uncovered insights regarding: (1) what climate change adaptation success means in different locations, (2) what relevant actions and processes are needed to move toward aspired goals, and (3) the challenges involved in setting up a manageable approach to track progress toward a common vision. The Science Collaborative team - together with the reserve partners - is now at the point of synthesizing lessons learned and finding ways to share them in the most useful way with the NERR System as a whole. Join the webinar to learn more about the project, some lessons learned, and help us determine what would be most useful deliverables from the project for you.

Susi Moser is principal at Susi Moser Research and Consulting, Inc. She is a member of the NERRS Science Collaborative team, working with reserves on climate change adaptation.

See: Project Page

Overcoming Uncertainty with Climate Scenario Planning
December 20, 2017 - Dani Boudreau & Syverine Bentz

Download: Webinar presentation slides

Project team members Dani Boudreau (Tijuana River NERR) and Syverine Bentz (Kachemak Bay NERR) discussed how climate scenario planning overcame multiple barriers to climate adaptation planning in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Multiple barriers hinder effective adaptation planning in Southcentral Alaska, including the uncertainty around future climate trajectories and limited capacity for interagency collaboration. To address these issues, the Tijuana River NERR (Imperial Beach, CA) partnered with their sister reserve in Kachemak Bay (Homer, AK) to enhance the regional adaptation capacity of Alaska’s Southcentral coastal communities. The webinar focused on climate scenario planning in both the Kachemak Bay and the Tijuana River Reserves, and how the project resulted in multiple unexpected outcomes for each.

Dani Boudreau is Coastal Management Specialist at Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve (Imperial Beach, California).

Syverine Bentz is Coastal Training program Coordinator at Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (Homer, Alaska).

See: Project Page

 

Impactful Science: An Assessment of Characteristics, Grantee Reflections, and Lessons Learned
November 30, 2017 - Dr. Julia Wondolleck

Download: Webinar Brief

Collaboration scholar, Julia Wondolleck, Professor of Environment and Sustainability at University of Michigan, outlined what she has learned from examining projects supported by the National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s (NERRS) Science Collaborative. NERRS research teams are committed to consequential collaboration with end users and to conveying what they have learned to others. They are exceptional at leveraging resources. In this webinar she discussed:

  • The ways in which end user and researcher interaction throughout the duration of a NERRS project incorporates local knowledge and networks to bring new ideas and opportunities to interactive science teams;
  • The impact of NERRS Science Collaborative project teams in improving understanding and community relationships likely to endure beyond the life of each project; and
  • The unique characteristics of collaborative science that set it apart from more traditional approaches to conducting research.

See Full Assessment Report:
NERRS Science Collaborative Projects: An Assessment of Characteristics, Grantee Reflections & Lessons Learned, Julia M. Wondolleck, Anna Bengtson, and Dietrich Bouma, University of Michigan (U-M), School for Environment and Sustainability and the U-M Water Center, part of the Graham Sustainability Institute, April 2017