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.
Hurricane Irma made landfall in southwest Florida within the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in September of 2017 as a Category 3 storm with winds in excess of 115 mph. For some areas within the reserve, the impact of the storm compounded the stress caused by decades of human development and changes to water flow patterns. Managers of the reserve want to better understand the synergistic effects of chronic stress from human modification or other drivers (e.g., sea level rise) and acute impacts from Hurricane Irma. One approach is to measure habitat structure and change in the time preceding and following the major storm event.
This webinar described the use of advanced satellite imagery to map the damage, death, and recovery of mangroves with a time series of images from 2010 to 2018. Dr. Matt McCarthy shared the methods used to map the landscape and evaluate change. Dr. Brita Jessen provided background for the study and discussed the management implications for the reserve and other coastal areas. Matt and Brita have been collaborating on a one year-year catalyst project that has relevance to coastal land managers interested in mapping habitat change.
About the Speakers:
|Dr. Matthew McCarthy is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science. He specializes in remote sensing and large-scale coastal mapping with supercomputing technologies and advanced image processing techniques. He has applied remote sensing methods to study a variety of issues, including mangroves, seagrasses, coral reefs, coastal geomorphology, sea-level rise, aquaculture and public health.|
|Dr. Brita Jessen is the research manager at the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. She specializes in ecosystem ecology of coastal wetlands. As the research team lead, Dr. Jessen supports long-term monitoring programs related to water quality, sea level rise, habitat change, and wildlife, and works across departments to facilitate the translation of current research into management and policy.|
Estuarine systems are areas of immense ecological importance and provide numerous social, economic, and environmental benefits, collectively known as ecosystem services. There has been an increasing desire to better incorporate ecosystem services into National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) management and stewardship, both from the network as a whole and at a local level. This webinar focused on a Science Collaborative-supported catalyst project that found streamlined ways to incorporate ecosystem services into NERRS decision making with applications to coastal management more broadly. Dr. Lydia Olander and Sara Mason at Duke University shared their approach to using Ecosystem Service Conceptual Models as a framework to think about ecosystem services and how they can be considered within the NERRS. In this webinar, they focused on work with the North Carolina and Rookery Bay NERRs to develop models of oyster reef and mangrove ecosystem services, efforts to apply these models to specific restoration sites at these reserves, and use of the models as a way to think about standardized monitoring of ecosystem services outcomes across the NERRS network.
Since 2016, Lydia and Sara have been working with the NERRS to think about how to incorporate ecosystem services more intentionally and systematically into coastal decision-making and management, resulting in publications (link 1, link 2) on the use of the ecosystem service conceptual model framework in the NERR context that laid the groundwork for the project.
About the Speakers:
|Dr. Lydia Olander directs the Ecosystem Services Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. She leads the National Ecosystem Services Partnership, supporting efforts to integrate ecosystem services into decision making, and studies environmental markets and mitigation, including forestry and agricultural based climate mitigation; wetland, stream and endangered species mitigation; and water quality trading.|
|Sara Mason joined the Ecosystem Services Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions as a policy associate after graduating from Duke with a master’s degree in environmental management. Her work focuses on the interdisciplinary nature of biodiversity conservation and how that can be leveraged to engage the public and policy makers in conservation efforts. Prior to joining the Nicholas Institute, Sara worked in ecological field research and endangered animal rehabilitation.|
The Kachemak Bay watershed, located on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, encompasses several terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that provide a range of benefits and services that are not easily quantified. This webinar highlighted methods and findings from a Master’s project - advised by Dr. Julia Wondolleck and for which the client was Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (KBNERR) - that provides insights about ecosystem services valued in Kachemak Bay using a socio-cultural, place-based, ecosystem services framework. In addition to hearing from the students, their partners at KBNERR shared how they hope to apply their findings, and offered ideas for others interested in working with a student team in the future.
Master's projects are interdisciplinary capstone experiences that enable University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) master's students to develop solutions to pressing problems faced by real-world clients.
About the Speakers:
Ellie Flaherty has experience in policy and program analysis as well as environmental compliance support, and currently works as a Research Associate for the NERRS Science Collaborative. Her professional and academic background was valuable in understanding the Kachemak Bay area’s political landscape and identifying key stakeholders, user groups, and decision-makers.
Kathryn Kirkpatrick holds a particular interest in wetland restoration, fostered by various work experiences in ecological consulting, wetland banking, and independent research. This background was valuable in understanding and communicating the diverse biophysical ecosystem services present in the Kachemak Bay watershed.
Trey Snow has a background in economics and research, which provided valuable insights throughout the project’s development and in navigating existing studies and literature on ecosystem services. Following his bachelor’s in economics from Bucknell University in 2016, Trey spent time across the US from the Montana backcountry with the US Forest Service to an organic farm in New England.
Syverine Bentz is interested in landscape change, coastal processes, and ecosystem services. She grew up on Kachemak Bay and started as a science collaborative and discovery lab volunteer at KBNERR. She currently works in the Coastal Training Program providing workshops, trainings and technical assistance.
Dr. Julia Wondolleck is an associate professor at the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan and a core team member with the Science Collaborative. She is a collaboration scholar and practitioner, and advised the project team.
Learn more about: Leveraging a U-M Master's Project team
- Download: Management Brief and Infographic
- Download: Webinar Summary Report
- Download: Panel Webinar Session Outline
- Watch: Full session recording (YouTube)
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
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.
Download: Webinar Brief
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.
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
Alison Watts, University of New Hampshire
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 will recap 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.
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
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