Reserve Management Needs and Key Words

Collaborative research projects supported by the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) Science Collaborative must address a management need expressed by one or more reserves. This page lists key words that describe reserves’ 2021-2022 management needs. Key words are organized by region, then by reserve. 

Potential applicants are encouraged to review the key words and the full details of the reserves' management needs in the PDF below. The individual listed for each reserve or topic may be contacted to discuss the current needs and opportunities for collaboration. As a reminder, project ideas that emerge after the publication of management needs — and do not align perfectly with a specific management need statement, including project ideas that engage multiple reserves — can be considered for funding if the relevance and value to the reserve system and potential end users are well justified in the proposal.

Download PDF: Detailed 2021 Reserve Management Needs          4 questions to help us improve this page (Google Forms)

Key words by region:

Caribbean Region

Jobos Bay, Puerto Rico | Contact: Aitza E. Pabon-Valentin, Manager,

  • Mangrove integrity, degradation, and community resilience
  • Water budget, freshwater contribution, groundwater and management
  • Estuarine habitat ecosystems and human settlement
  • Synthesis of scientific data
  • Updated Site Profile

Great Lakes Region

Lake Superior, Wisconsin | Contact: Deanna Erickson, Manager,

  • Sediment and nutrient dynamics
  • Algal blooms 
  • Extreme water levels
  • Invasive emerald ash borer
  • Function of forested wetlands
  • Landscape conservation design process

Old Woman Creek, Ohio | Contact: Janice Kerns, Manager,

  • Soil health for best management practices
  • Cultural and economic barriers
  • Storms and drought events
  • Evaluation of invasive species management programs
  • Marine debris impacts on Great Lakes ecosystem services
  • Nature-based shoreline suitability in Lake Erie’s coastal region

Gulf of Mexico Region

Apalachicola, FloridaContact: Jason Garwood, Research Coordinator,

  • Tropicalization of habitats
  • Ecosystem services and local community well-being and values through socio-economic data
  • Adaptive management plan for the oyster fishery
  • Trophic linkages/interactions between organisms within the river and bay
  • Reduced freshwater flows

Grand Bay, Mississippi | Contact: Ayesha Gray, Manager,

  • Ecological processes
  • Nature-based infrastructure
  • Freshwater inflows
  • Ecosystem services valuation, and local community well-being and values through socio-economic data
  • NRDA/RESTORE projects
  • Social science studies
  • Contaminants including nutrients, fecal coliform, harmful algal blooms (HABs), and nonpoint source pollution
  • Sediment transport
  • Treatments on invasive species
  • Wet pine savanna restoration
  • Synthesis of monitoring information
  • Education and outreach

Mission-Aransas, TexasContact: Ed Buskey, Research Coordinator,

  • Climate change impacts
  • Coastal resiliency planning
  • Biodiversity monitoring
  • Communicating ecosystem services
  • Freshwater inflows
  • Wastewater and stormwater management
  • Marine debris
  • Harmful algal blooms (HABs)
  • Habitat protection
  • Impacts to fish, bird, and migrating species
  • Green infrastructure
  • Estuary hydrodynamics
  • Applications for reserve monitoring data

Rookery Bay, Florida | Contact: Keith Laakkonen, Manager, | Jessica McIntosh, CTP Coordinator, | Jeffrey Carter, Stewardship Coordinator,

  • Enhancing adaptation to “tropicalization", protecting endemic species
  • Socio-economic impact of Reserve actions
  • Ecosystem Services Conceptual Models (ESCM)
  • Mangrove coastlines
  • Human behavior change
  • Ecosystem effects of freshwater inflow management
  • Fisheries
  • Assessment and management of submerged habitats

Weeks Bay, Alabama | Contact: Scott Phipps, Research Coordinator,

  • Light attenuation and effects on productivity
  • Over-water infrastructure
  • Coastal habitat changes
  • Design guidance
  • Shoreline protection plans, effectiveness for restoration and living shorelines, barriers to adoption of best practices
  • Marine debris, abandoned and derelict vessels
  • Prescribed fire and the ecology of coastal habitats
  • Carbon and nutrient cycling
  • Educational tools and methods

Mid-Atlantic Region

Chesapeake Bay, Maryland | Contact: Kyle Derby, Research Coordinator,

  • Marsh migration
  • Saltwater intrusion and salinization
  • Blue Carbon
  • Environmental justice and social science related to climate change
  • Tool development for restoration and adaptive management
  • Macro- and micro-plastic contamination 
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Road salt usage
  • Ocean acidification
  • Marine debris
  • Benthic habitat assessment
  • Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV)
  • Synthesis and end-products related to sea level rise and coastal inundation

Chesapeake Bay, Virginia | Contact: Carl Friedrichs, Research Coordinator,

  • Physical and biological variability
  • Wetland community integrity and resiliency
  • Seagrass bed resiliency
  • Ecosystem restoration strategies
  • Stressor mitigation for estuarine systems
  • Harmful algal blooms (HABs) initiation, dynamics and impacts
  • Integration and syntheses of the long-term meteorological, water quality, physical, and biological datasets

Delaware | Contact: Kari St. Laurent, Research Coordinator,

  • Coastal acidification and hypoxia
  • Greenhouse gas exchange
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Nutrients, organic contaminants, and heavy metals
  • Marsh bird population dynamics and stressors
  • Sediment management and transport

Hudson River, New York | Contact: Sarah.Fernald, Research Coordinator,

  • Blue carbon
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Methane emissions
  • Wetland resilience
  • Aquatic biodiversity, habitat utilization, and species abundance and phenology
  • Acoustic sensing
  • eDNA
  • Biological monitoring tools
  • Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV)
  • Invasive water chestnut
  • Tools on sediment type and contamination, fish use, and SAV dynamics

Jacques Cousteau, New Jersey | Contact: Michael De Luca, Manager,

  • Bioacoustic research
  • Faunal composition changes
  • Assessment of the effectiveness of resilience efforts (resilience metrics)
  • Water and habitat quality, upwelling, ocean acidification and saltwater intrusion
  • Precipitation and storms
  • Estuary dynamics
  • Living shorelines and beneficial use of dredged sediment
  • Standards and best practices for nature-based solutions

Northeast Region

Great Bay, New Hampshire | Contact: Chris Peter, Research Coordinator,

  • Climate change impacts on estuarine habitats and ecosystem function
  • Waste- and stormwater management
  • Habitat buffering pollutants
  • Sub- and intertidal estuarine habitat stressors
  • Estuarine habitat restoration techniques
  • Visualization and analysis tools
  • Science communication products

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island | Contact: Caitlin Chaffee, Manager,

  • Coastal marshes and adjacent communities resiliency
  • Habitat vulnerability
  • Social and economic barriers and opportunities to decision-making
  • Ecosystem services valuation for habitat protection and restoration
  • Stormwater management
  • Low impact development and green infrastructure
  • Education and engagement strategies
  • Evaluating habitat restoration success
  • User-based products from the System-wide Monitoring Program and Sentinel Sites

Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts | Contact: Megan Tyrrell, Research Coordinator,

  • Climate impacts on estuarine systems
  • Habitat restoration and biogeochemical processes
  • Marsh resilience
  • Nutrients and emerging contaminants
  • Coastal acidification and aquaculture
  • Community resilience

Wells, Maine | Contact: Jason Goldstein, Research Director,

  • Invasive species interactions
  • Sentinel organisms and coastal habitats
  • Social science research and climate risk
  • Coastal and ocean acidification
  • Social challenges of climate adaptation strategies, living shorelines, beach replenishment
  • Tools and analyses to amplify monitoring data
  • Complementary metrics

Southeast Region

Southeast Region Management Need: Oyster reefs provide myriad ecosystem services and the resilience of these habitats can be influenced by a variety of natural and anthropogenic forces. Increasingly, remote sensing — including Unoccupied Aerial Systems (drones) — is being used to map the distribution and abundance of intertidal oyster reef habitats, but application of remote sensing approaches to assess changes in the structure and ‘quality’ of oyster reef habitats is generally lacking. Therefore, reserves within the Southeast are interested in developing novel methods and workflows to remotely assess the quality of intertidal oyster reef habitat at user-defined spatial and temporal scales, including potential impacts of human use on the resilience of these essential habitats. Note: This need was co-developed with staff from the North Inlet-Winyah Bay, ACE Basin, Sapelo Island, and GTM NERRs. We anticipate the project team potentially working with all of the reserves listed.

ACE Basin, South CarolinaContact: Denise Sanger, Research Coordinator,

  • Adaptation or mitigation strategies for marshes
  • Impact of acute and long-term hazards  
  • Remote assessment of oyster reef habitat (SE Regional Need)
  • Shorebird habitat characterization and threats
  • Integration and syntheses of the long-term meteorological, water quality, and biological datasets

Guana Tolomato Matanzas, Florida | Contact: Lia Sansom, Manager,

  • Nutrient dynamics
  • Hydrologic and pollutant source modeling
  • Characterization of wetland structure and function
  • Stormwater infrastructure, treatment, and water quality impacts
  • Freshwater marsh sentinel site monitoring plan
  • Remote assessment of oyster reef habitat (SE Regional Need)

North Carolina | Contact: Brandon Puckett, | Whitney Jenkins,

  • Sediment dynamics of ocean beach and marsh habitats
  • Sand placement
  • Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) protocols for a multi-scaled, coupled water quality and seagrass monitoring program
  • Habitat mapping to support resilience
  • Remote assessment of oyster reef habitat (SE Regional Need)

North Inlet-Winyah Bay, South Carolina | Contact: Erik Smith, Manager,

  • Vulnerabilities of coastal marshes
  • Salt marsh ecosystem services
  • Assessment of the ecological effects and human dimensions of natural resource use
  • Stormwater management
  • Land use, development practices, and non-point source pollution
  • Nature-based techniques for resilience of human and natural communities
  • Synthesis of stressors affecting the dynamics of coastal habitats and biota
  • Habitat assessment tools
  • Remote assessment of oyster reef habitat (SE Regional Need)

Sapelo Island, Georgia | Contact: Rachel Guy, Research Coordinator,

  • Effects of climate change and sea level rise on natural and human communities
  • Enhancing the resilience of the island resident community
  • Altered island hydrology
  • Remote assessment of oyster reef habitat (SE Regional Need)

West Coast Region

Elkhorn Slough, California | Contact: Kerstin Wasson,, for natural science questions | Dan Brumbaugh,, for social science and policy questions

  • Adaptation strategies for community risks
  • Decision-making barriers related to habitat change, climate change, and/or coastal development
  • Resilience planning tools
  • Regional environmental stewardship
  • Eutrophication
  • Estuarine habitat restoration
  • Streamlining permits for habitat resilience

Kachemak Bay, Alaska | Contact: Coowe Walker, for climate change and water quality questions | Syverine Bentz, for ecosystem services questions | Steve Baird, for monitoring data synthesis questions

  • Soundscape monitoring, remote sensing, and community monitoring
  • Human and natural systems interactions
  • Community-relevant engagement
  • Salmon productivity
  • Land use change and human impacts
  • Hydrology and nutrient cycling
  • Analysis and outreach on physical and biological monitoring data

Padilla Bay, Washington | Contact: Jude Apple, Manager,

  • Strategies to protect or increase threatened habitats and species
  • Human communities reliant upon the coastal ecosystem
  • Ecosystem service approach to understand socio-ecological systems
  • Fecal coliform contamination and management
  • Land use and water quality, agricultural practices, carbon sequestration, and nutrient delivery to coastal waters
  • Sediment, eelgrass, and invasive species, restoration methods
  • Synthesis of monitoring data to investigate natural and anthropogenic drivers of variability in estuarine responses

San Francisco Bay, California | Contact: Stuart Siegel, Interim Manager,

  • Groundwater dynamics and marsh resilience
  • Coastal road adaptation
  • Estuary value to the urban ecosystem
  • Diverse audiences for new collaborations and community messaging
  • Endangered plant species experimental manipulations
  • Application of monitoring data to coastal management, environmental monitoring, and education

South Slough, Oregon | Contact: Shon Schooler, Research Coordinator,

  • Climate change on habitats and species
  • Effective communication strategies related to biophysical, social, economic and behavioral impacts of habitat/climate change
  • Measure ecosystem services
  • Identify and prioritize management needs
  • Communicate to coastal communities
  • Predict and manage multiple stressors (changing climate, land-use practices, introduced species)
  • Green crabs and other invasive species
  • Sediment, high temperature, and chemical pollutants
  • Eelgrass beds
  • Estuary species and functions
  • Restoration trajectories in wetlands and forests
  • Applications of monitoring data for managers and educators

Tijuana River, California | Contact: Jeff Crooks, Research Coordinator,

  • Nearshore ecosystem dynamics
  • Psycho-social resilience
  • Equity, diversity & coastal planning
  • Estuarine biodiversity
  • Cultural ecosystem services in urban and bi-national contexts
  • Impacts on water quality
  • Inter-agency collaboration to advance management
  • Marsh & dune restoration
  • Bio-sentinels
  • Data driven triggers for management

Pacific Region

Heʻeia, Hawaiʻi | Contact: Kawika B. Winter, Manager, | Shimi Rii, Research Coordinator,

  • Biogeochemical conditions (dissolved oxygen, macro- or micro-nutrients)
  • Local and Indigenous knowledge
  • Indigenous and conventional ecosystem-based management practices
  • Synthesis of cultural and scientific data
  • Cultural ecosystem services and biocultural indicators
  • Bioindicators
  • Agroecosystem managers and students
  • Nutrient dynamics and management
  • Sediment
  • Coral reef ecosystems
  • Fishpond productivity
  • Wastewater and invasive species
  • Watershed management practice (ahupuaʻa)
  • Reciprocal collaboration
  • Digital Site Profile