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NERRS Science Collaborative awards $5.2 million for user-driver coastal research

Twenty projects involving 29 reserve sites across the nation and totaling more than $5.2 million have been recommended for support by NOAA ’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative, managed by the University of Michigan Water Center.

The projects will tackle a range of timely and important coastal issues, including climate adaptation, ecosystem services, marsh resilience, and oyster management, among others.

“We are thrilled to be supporting these diverse projects that together will advance the mission of the National Estuarine Research System, ” said Dr. Jennifer Read, coordinator of the NOAA-supported NERRS Science Collaborative and Director of the University of Michigan (U-M) Water Center. “I ’m struck by how well this set of projects builds on the reserve ’s core research and monitoring, education, and stewardship programs, and draws on their deep collaboration expertise. For example, several projects will test new technologies to supplement current monitoring efforts, others are conducting national syntheses of long-term monitoring datasets, and still others are transforming reserve research into powerful communication and educational tools. ”

This funding cycle ’s projects fall into three categories: catalyst projects, collaborative research projects, and science transfer projects. Catalyst projects aim to spur new ideas, boost existing collaborative research, or synthesize NERRS monitoring data for regional or national application. Collaborative research projects conduct new applied science through an end user-driven, collaborative process that results in research, data, tools, or other products that will inform decision making related to a reserve management need. Science transfer grants support the transfer of existing information, approaches, and techniques to support reserve activities and programs across all reserve sectors.

All Science Collaborative projects integrate decision-makers and other end-users to ensure that products address current coastal management issues. Over the course of the project period, teams have access to Science Collaborative support and resources, including experts in collaborative research design and implementation, and data management.

2020 NERRS Science Collaborative Grant Awards

Project Lead and AffiliationProject TitleParticipating Reserve(s)
Samantha Chapman,  
Villanova University
Experimenting with elevation: Building a new collaboration to explore management options for wetland elevation maintenanceGuana Tolomato Matanzas (FL)
Catherine de Rivera,  
Portland State University
Determining salt marsh and restoration success using focus groups of managers and the public, and past dataSouth Slough (OR)
Nikki Dix,  
Guana Tolomato Matanzas NERR
Refining techniques for high-frequency monitoring of chlorophyll a(alpha) in the NERRSGuana Tolomato Matanzas (FL), Old Woman Creek (OH), Mission-Aransas (TX), Heʻeia (HI), Padilla Bay (WA), Lake Superior (WI), North Inlet-Winyah Bay (SC), Weeks Bay (AL), Great Bay (NH), Grand Bay (MS), Elkhorn Slough (CA), Wells (ME), Sapelo Island (GA)
Brad Erisman,  
University of Texas at Austin
Listen in: Acoustic monitoring of estuarine communities facing ecosystem changeMission-Aransas (TX), Rookery Bay (FL), North Inlet-Winyah Bay (SC)
Pua ’ala Pascua,  
American Museum of Natural History
Cultural ecosystem services in estuary stewardship and managementHeʻeia (HI), Kachemak Bay (AK)
Brandon Puckett,  
North Carolina NERR
Bridging the gap between quadrats and satellites: Assessing utility of drone-based imagery to enhance emergent vegetation biomonitoringNorth Carolina (NC), North Inlet-Winyah Bay (SC), ACE Basin (SC), Sapelo Island (GA), Guana Tolomato Matanzas (FL), Jobos Bay (PR)
Andrew Tweel,  
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Identifying optimal foraging characteristics to inform piping plover and red knot habitat managementACE Basin (SC)
Coowe Walker,  
Kachemak Bay NERR
Collaborative assessment of research efforts and emerging issues concerning forage fish exposure to paralytic shellfish toxins in AlaskaKachemak Bay (AK)
Craig Cornu, Institute for Applied EcologyPacific Northwest Blue Carbon Working Group Phase 2: Land use and environmental effects on greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration, informing blue carbon project feasibility assessments for tidal wetland managementPadilla Bay (WA), South Slough (OR)
Danielle Ogurcak,   
Florida International University
Resilience of the mangrove coast: Understanding links between degradation, recovery, and community benefitsJobos Bay (PR), Rookery Bay (FL)
Chris Peter,  
Great Bay NERR
Detecting impacts from climate change across multiple scales: A National synthesis of tidal marshesGreat Bay (NH), ACE Basin (SC), Apalachicola (FL), Chesapeake Bay (MD), Chesapeake Bay (VA), Delaware (DE), Elkhorn Slough (CA), Grand Bay (MS), Guana Tolomato Matanzas (FL), Hudson River (NY), Jacques Cousteau (NJ), Kachemak Bay (AK), Mission-Aransas (TX), Narragansett Bay (RI), North Carolina (NC), North Inlet-Winyah Bay (SC), Padilla Bay (WA), South Slough (OR), Tijuana River (CA), Waquoit Bay (MA), Wells (ME)
Ashley Smyth,  
University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Using collaborative science to assess the current and potential role of shellfish in improving water qualityGuana Tolomato Matanzas (FL)
Dave Sutherland,  
University of Oregon
Buried or fried? Understanding sedimentation and temperature effects on native species restoration in the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Coos estuarySouth Slough (OR)
Kerstin Wasson,   
Elkhorn Slough NERR
The nation's past and future estuaries: detecting estuarine habitat loss and opportunities for future restoration in and around National Estuarine Research ReservesElkhorn Slough (CA), Padilla Bay (WA), Tijuana River (CA), Lake Superior (WI), Great Bay (NH), ACE Basin (SC)
Kaitlyn Dietz,   
Guana Tolomato Matanzas NERR
Developing a template to communicate hurricanes and hurricane impacts using NERRS SWMP dataGuana Tolomato Matanzas (FL), Delaware (DE), North Carolina (NC), North Inlet-Winyah Bay (SC), ACE Basin (SC), Jobos Bay (PR)
Deanna Erickson,   
Lake Superior NERR
The future of site profiles: An innovative cross-sector approach to incorporating end user and reserve needsLake Superior (WI), Heʻeia (HI)
Matt Ferner,   
San Francisco Bay NERR
Translating sediment research in San Francisco Bay NERR into management recommendations for improving marsh habitat resilienceSan Francisco Bay (CA)
Kaitlin Gannon,   
Jacques Cousteau NERR
Adopting program coordination methods and best practices to launch community-driven research efforts on the American eel (Anguilla rostrata)Jacques Cousteau (NJ), Hudson River (NY)
Blaik Keppler,   
Building capacity for reserves to be Motus Wildlife Tracking leadersACE Basin (SC), San Francisco Bay (CA), Grand Bay (MS), Hudson River (NY)
Vitalii Sheremet,   
Okeanolog/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutiton
Transfer of a low-cost tidal wetland water level monitoring system: Hyperlocal calculations of inundation and tidal datums for understanding change and restoration planningWaquoit Bay (MA), Wells (ME), Great Bay (NH), Narragansett Bay (RI), Delaware (DE), North Inlet-Winyah Bay (SC), Guana Tolomato Matanzas (FL)
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* These projects have been recommended to NOAA for funding; grant awards are contingent upon the findings of NOAA environmental compliance reviews.

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System ’s Science Collaborative supports collaborative research that addresses coastal management problems important to the reserves. The Science Collaborative is managed by the University of Michigan ’s Water Center through a cooperative agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Funding for the research reserves and this program comes from NOAA. Learn more at or