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 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 for session recordings and other relevant products, or sign up (Mailing List | RSS) to receive notifications about new resources and upcoming webinars.

Upcoming Webinars

12/07/2021 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm - Speaker(s): Amanda Spivak, Tonna-Marie Surgeon Rogers, Giulio Mariotti, and Gabrielle Sakolsky

Parallel grid ditches were dug in approximately 90% of mid-Atlantic and New England salt marshes from the 1920s through the 1940s. Today, managers must navigate the effects of these past actions when making decisions about marsh hydrology and drainage that impact human health, ecosystem services, and marsh sustainability. Managers must also consider how stressors such as sea-level rise impact marshes. A team of scientists including staff from the Waquoit Bay Reserve in Massachusetts helped to address this challenge by working iteratively with coastal managers and restoration practitioners to develop a decision support tool for marsh hydrology management strategies that promote sustainability and continued delivery of valuable ecosystem services under future sea level rise scenarios.

In this webinar, the project team shares both the collaborative and technical aspects of their approach and the resultant Marsh Sustainability and Hydrology Decision Support Tool. The tool predicts potential outcomes of ditch and runnel maintenance in micro- and macro-tidal salt marshes under different scenarios of suspended sediment input and sea level rise.

Learn more about the speakers:

Amanda Spivak is an Associate Professor in the Department of Marine Sciences at University of Georgia. Her research aims to  refine the role of estuaries and wetlands in the global carbon cycle and predict the likelihood of ecosystem recovery from disturbances. She uses biogeochemical and ecological approaches to quantify carbon fluxes, transformations, and fates. As project and technical lead, Amanda coordinated the many aspects of the project including fieldwork and model development.

Tonna-Marie Surgeon Rogers is the Manager of Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Massachusetts. She has been working at the nexus of science and management for two decades and as part of her role at the Reserve leads engagement efforts to integrate stakeholders in research and planning processes related to coastal issues such as climate change, ecosystem services, coastal resilience, and water quality. As collaborative lead for this project, Tonna-Marie helped design and facilitate the team’s approach to engaging end users and being responsive to their needs in developing the decision support tool.

Giulio Mariotti is an Associate Professor in Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences. His research aims to understand and quantify the long-term morphological evolution of coastlines and their responses to global environmental changes, with particular interest in coupling physical and biochemical processes (ecogeomorphology). As co-technical lead for this project, Giulio led development of a mathematical model that helps predict the evolution of marsh properties based on various parameters.

Gabrielle Sakolsky is the Superintendent at the Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project, a key end user of products developed as part of this project. She has conducted and directed the mosquito arbovirus surveillance program in Barnstable County for CCMCP for the past 25 years. Gabrielle also serves as chair of the American Mosquito Control Association’s Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP) committee and is past president of the Northeastern Mosquito Control Association.

Learn more about the project: Evaluating the Impact of Hydrologic Alterations on Salt Marsh Sustainability in a Changing Climate

Past Webinars

02/14/2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm - Speaker(s): 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

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

10/23/2018 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm - Speaker(s): 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

09/19/2018 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm - Speaker(s): 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

07/17/2018 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm - Speaker(s): 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

06/21/2018 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm - Speaker(s): 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

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

04/11/2018 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm - Speaker(s): Sophia Paul, Katie Pritchard, Julia Wondolleck, and 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

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

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.

Dr. 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

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