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Virtual 3-Minute Lightning Talk Healthy Coastal Ecosystems
Dec 02, 2020 04:30 PM - Dec 31, 2020 05:30 PM (America/Chicago) Switch to local time
20201202T1630 20201202T1730 America/Chicago Lightning Talks - Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

Development, resource extraction, climate change and other anthropogenic stressors on coastal ecosystems are issues of management concern. Scientists and stakeholders are attempting to understand such impacts and find integrative coastal management strategies. The seascape changes that may occur to coastal habitats because of these stressors can be dire. For example, changes in the hydrogeomorphology of a landscape combined impacts of subsidence, sea level rise and alterations in freshwater flow may have negative impacts on coastal habitats. They may also have cascading impacts on the many species residing in these habitats. The focus of this track is to present research, policy and educational opportunities and tools that have been used to improve our understanding of habitat vulnerability. This track is intended to provide a venue for scientists and managers to share their insights about habitat protection, conservation and restoration in light of the inevitable changes to our coasts.

Virtual 2020 Bays and Bayous Symposium melissa.schneider@usm.edu
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration logoMobile Bay National Estuary Program logoMississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium logoThe University of Southern Mississippi  logoDauphin Island Sea Lab Foundation logoAlabama State Port Authority logoMississippi Commercial Fisheries United logoGulf of Mexico Alliance logoHydro, LLC logoGeosyntec  logoNorthern Gulf Institute logoGoodwyn Mills & Cawood, Inc. logoNeel-Schaffer, inc. logoHeadwaters LLC logoStantec Consulting Services Inc. logoDog River Clearwater Revival logoEnvironmental Science Associates (ESA) logoThompson Engineering logo

Development, resource extraction, climate change and other anthropogenic stressors on coastal ecosystems are issues of management concern. Scientists and stakeholders are attempting to understand such impacts and find integrative coastal management strategies. The seascape changes that may occur to coastal habitats because of these stressors can be dire. For example, changes in the hydrogeomorphology of a landscape combined impacts of subsidence, sea level rise and alterations in freshwater flow may have negative impacts on coastal habitats. They may also have cascading impacts on the many species residing in these habitats. The focus of this track is to present research, policy and educational opportunities and tools that have been used to improve our understanding of habitat vulnerability. This track is intended to provide a venue for scientists and managers to share their insights about habitat protection, conservation and restoration in light of the inevitable changes to our coasts.

Boat Wake Dynamics in "No-Wake" ZonesView Abstract 3-Minute Lightning Talk
04:30 PM - 05:30 PM2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC
Wave energy is a major driver for coastal processes, such as erosion, sediment transport, and hydrodynamics. For this reason, it is important for wave energy to be considered in the process of site selection, design, and implementation of conservation and restoration projects. In areas influenced by boat wakes, no-wake, or idle speed only, zones have been established to protect sensitive shorelines. These zones are primarily marked with moored buoys, which are routinely stopped at abruptly by approaching boaters or accelerated out of at the end of one of these zones. An abrupt stop or start by a vessel can produce a type of wave, known as a self-reinforcing wave, that propagates above the current mean water level. The atypically large structure of these waves can lead to negative impacts on sensitive shorelines and this has been observed, anecdotally, where areas at the edge of no-wake zones have disproportionately more erosion. To explore the relationship between proximity to no-wake zones and erosion, a field experiment was performed in summer 2020 where the waves impacting the shorelines from multiple vessel approaches were evaluated. Vessel approaches consisted of 5 replicates each of 1) cruising parallel, 2) stopping parallel, 3) stopping perpendicular, 4) stopping at a 45-degree angle, and 5) accelerating parallel to shore. Waves were measured using DIY wave gauges spread across a 160m stretch of shoreline. Results indicated that wave heights impacted the shoreline were twice as high within the first 40m of accelerating out of a stop and that there was no difference in wave heights for any of the stopping treatments or cruising treatment within the first 40m. Beyond 40m, cruising and accelerating wave heights were higher than the other treatments.
Presenters Skylar Liner
Mississippi State Coastal Research And Extension Center
Co-authors
ES
Eric Sparks
Mississippi State University And Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant
MV
Matthew Virden
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
SH
Shelby Harrier
Mississippi State Coastal Research And Extension Center
JA
Jaden Akers
Mississippi State Coastal Research And Extension Center
PB
Payton Billingsley
Mississippi State University
Saint Stanislaus Nurdle PatrolView Abstract 3-Minute Lightning Talk
04:30 PM - 05:30 PM2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC
Since January 2019, the Saint Stanislaus (SSC) Marine Science program has worked with the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, University of Texas at Austin, in a global citizen scientist research project. The project focuses on the pollution epidemic regarding microplastics, specifically nurdles. Nurdles are small pieces of plastic that are the raw materials for larger plastics. Nurdles are often found washed up on the shores in the Gulf of Mexico region, as well as the rest of the world. Marine organisms mistake nurdles for food resulting in the absorbtion of toxic chemicals which can biomagnify through the food chain. The purpose of this research project is to bring awareness of this environmental issue, pinpoint their locations, and to prevent their spread throughout the Gulf of Mexico. SSC focuses on the beaches of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Marine Science classes conduct surveys on a regular basis, spending 10 - 20 minutes searching for and picking up nurdles in the strandline. After each survey, nurdles are counted and the data is submitted monthly to the Nurdle Patrol website. This data is then utilized at the state and national level in hopes to prevent further spread of nurdle pollution and to hold those manufacturers accountable for loss of these pollutants. Daily counts of nurdles found on our beaches have ranged anywhere from 20 nurdles per class to over 1,500. At the beginning of last school year, our total was 14,791 nurdles. Today, it is over 35,000 nurdles. Although a large number, it is only a fraction of the number of nurdles being spilled around the world. A recent spill in the Mississippi River near New Orleans contained 743 million nurdles. SSC is monitoring this to further understand the rate at which nurdles spread throughout the Gulf region.
Presenters Grant Sides
Saint Stanislaus
Shorelines, submerged aquatic vegetation, and their relationship in Back Bay, MS View Abstract 3-Minute Lightning Talk
04:30 PM - 05:30 PM2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC
Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in estuaries are known to provide many ecosystem services. However, anthropogenic stressors such as development, dredging, boat traffic, and excess nutrient loading are rapidly causing declines in SAV. The actions of waterfront property owners can directly lead to the impairment of SAV and consequently hamper many of the ecosystem services that attracted them to reside along the coast. Back Bay, Mississippi is poorly understood, but is known to have SAV beds that are dominated by Vallisneria americana. Additionally, over 60% of privately owned shorelines along the Bay are currently hardened with either a seawall, wooden, or vinyl bulkhead. To better understand the spatial extent of SAV in Back Bay and possible associations with shoreline type (e.g., hardened or natural), we collected high-resolution aerial imagery in October 2019 with a UAS around the entire perimeter of Back Bay, MS that was then processed and analyzed. Specifically, shorelines were classified as either hardened or natural and the distribution of SAV patches was mapped using the collected aerial imagery. The extent of SAV in Back Bay was found to be over 30 hectares with the majority of it clustered in the lower salinity western region of the Bay. Within that western region, identified natural and hardened shoreline segments were analyzed through ArcMap to determine the length of natural shorelines and bulkheads that included a patch of seagrass within 10 meters of the shore. Results showed that ~50% of the observed natural shorelines were associated with a seagrass patch within 10 meters while only ~23% of bulkheads had the same association. Further research is needed, but this work could suggest that the maintenance of natural shorelines supports SAV more effectively than hardened shorelines in Back Bay.
Presenters
DM
David Malcolm
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Co-authors
ES
Eric Sparks
Mississippi State University And Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant
MV
Matthew Virden
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
SE
Shardeja English
Tuskegee University
Spatial Patterns of Marsh Erosion and Expansion in the Pascagoula River Estuary View Abstract 3-Minute Lightning Talk
04:30 PM - 05:30 PM2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC
The Pascagoula River Estuary contains one of the most expansive marsh ecosystems on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The marsh provides essential economic and ecological services by supporting fisheries, filtering impurities and sediments from estuarine waters, and reducing storm surge impacts to upland areas. To assess spatial changes in marsh extent over the past two decades, we classified land cover at 3 meters GSD using four multispectral aerial image datasets collected between 1996 and 2018, with the goals of 1) quantifying changes in marsh extent, and 2) identifying areas of retreat and expansion at the lower marsh boundary. Using these classified maps, we measured changes in the areal extent of marsh, woodland, water, and unvegetated areas, and used linear regression to quantify land cover trends over time. We also measured movement of the marsh edge along channels, lakes, and the marine boundary of the marsh by calculating transect lengths at 50-meter intervals perpendicular to baselines derived from National Hydrography Dataset features. Linear regression indicated a total rate of marsh loss of 24.4 ha/yr (r^2=0.83), and a rate of 13.0 ha/yr (r^2=0.99) when only interactions between marsh and water or unvegetated areas were considered. Mean channel width increased by 5.1 m, and the marsh edge retreated by a mean 7.0 m along areas bordering the Mississippi Sound and a mean 7.0 m along lakes and other nonlinear hydrological features within the estuary, with positive and negative changes in transect length seen in each category. As conversion from marsh to woodland land cover has also resulted in net marsh loss, maintenance of the lower marsh boundary is one key factor in slowing future losses in marsh extent. These findings may be used to target areas for restoration and to examine the conditions which have allowed expansion to occur at the marsh edge.
Presenters Margaret Waldron
University Of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast Geospatial Center
Co-authors
GC
Gregory Carter
The University Of Southern Mississippi
HN
Heather Nicholson
Florida Atlantic University
Vegetative Community and Health Assessment of a Constructed Juncus-dominated Salt Marsh in the Northern Gulf of MexicoView Abstract 3-Minute Lightning Talk
04:30 PM - 05:30 PM2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC
Deer Island provides a buffer from storm and flood damage as well as shore-line stabilization to the mainland of Biloxi, MS. A third of the land has been lost since 1850, largely driven by tropical storm and hurricane impacts as well as sea level rise. The United States Army Corps of Engineers and Mississippi Department of Marine Resources have conducted restoration with beneficial use material, and two sites have since been planted with native vegetation. The sites are anticipated to function similarly to the Juncus roemerianus (Black Needlerush) dominated salt marshes natural to the northern Gulf of Mexico and provides a test case for the success of future salt marsh loss mitigation using J. roemerianus. This study assessed the vegetative health of the constructed sites using vascular plant community diversity and biomass, as well as relating these parameters to geomorphological characteristics of the area by measuring elevation and soil condition. Sampling in Spring and Fall 2017 through 2019 demonstrated establishment of planted salt marsh and naturally-recruited sand-berm vegetation. Planted J. roemerianus, however, failed to establish and exists sparsely on the marsh platform. The two constructed sites were found to have a diverse array of vegetation, but function of the salt marsh in terms of root production and sediment organic carbon deposition remained underdeveloped when compared to the natural reference site. Additionally, sea level rise was projected at the two constructed sites under three scenarios to assess the sites’ vulnerability to rising sea levels. All sites were found to be vulnerable to sea level rise except under the lowest sea level rise scenario. Further monitoring should be conducted to observe the development of ecological functions at these constructed marshes and evaluate their success in the long term.
Presenters
PB
Patrick Biber
The University Of Southern Missisippi
Co-authors
NM
Nickolas Murphy
Gulf Coast Research Lab
Assessing Recovery of Ecosystem Structure and Function in Restored Tidal Marshes of the Mississippi-Alabama Gulf Coast View Abstract 3-Minute Lightning Talk
04:30 PM - 05:30 PM2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC
Increasingly, coastal wetland restoration is utilized to offset wetland loss and degradation and to recover ecosystem services, making it important to evaluate the relative effectiveness and times to functional equivalence of different restoration strategies. Two critically important services provided by coastal wetlands are carbon storage and nitrogen removal. By restoring or creating wetlands, it is possible to recover these functions and services, thereby promoting more resilient coastal watersheds. As part of a new Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant project, we will evaluate ecosystem structure and function in habitat restoration and creation projects of different ages. Our objectives are to compare structural and functional attributes in restored coastal wetlands of different ages to reference wetlands, to estimate recovery trajectories and times to equivalency for these attributes, and to evaluate the relative effectiveness of different habitat restoration projects. We will inventory plant community structure, plant biomass, soil carbon storage, and nitrogen removal capacity via denitrification in 16 coastal wetlands, including 12 created or restored wetlands ranging in age from 4 to 33 years. Preliminary results from one reference and two 33-year-old created marshes revealed that plant biomass stocks, soil organic matter, and litter decomposition rates were greater in the reference marsh than two constructed marshes, with the natural marsh storing approximately ten times more carbon than constructed marshes. Further, denitrification was two times greater in the natural marsh than one of the two constructed marshes. Through similar analyses at all sites, we will assess the relative effectiveness of different habitat restoration projects along the Mississippi-Alabama Gulf Coast, which will be used to inform restoration practices. Thus, this project will provide important baseline information about restoration activities, while also assessing the structural and functional outcomes of projects that used different approaches for wetland restoration or creation.
Presenters Julia Cherry
University Of Alabama
Co-authors
ES
Erin Smyth
The University Of Alabama
Corianne Tatariw
Biological Sciences; University Of Alabama
TL
Taylor Ledford
The University Of Alabama
LS
Lorae' Simpson
Florida Oceanographic Society
AW
Abigail Wood
University Of Alabama
SS
Sommer Starr
University Of Alabama
BM
Behzad Mortazavi
The University Of Alabama
Comprehensive monitoring of constructed reefs in the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research ReserveView Abstract 3-Minute Lightning Talk
04:30 PM - 05:30 PM2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC
The Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is working with partners from the United States Geological Survey and Mississippi State University to comprehensively monitor constructed reefs in the Grand Bay Estuary. Reef construction, scheduled to occur in fall of 2020, is funded by the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Phase IV Early Restoration Project: Restoring Living Shorelines and Reefs in Mississippi Estuaries. The portion of the project slated for Grand Bay includes construction of 6.5 acres of subtidal reefs in Point Aux Chenes Bay and 3 acres of intertidal reefs in Bangs Bayou. The objectives of this project include reductions in shoreline erosion and increases in secondary productivity. Pre-construction monitoring of wave energy, shoreline erosion, vegetation communities, and sediment accretion on the marsh platform began in 2018. Monitoring of fish communities, which includes two functional groups of fish, began with gill netting in 2019 and also utilizes Breder trap deployments (began in 2020). Additional monitoring of epifaunal communities is scheduled to occur in early fall of 2020. Data from these monitoring efforts, and subsequent post-construction monitoring will be compared with data collected after the reefs are constructed in a before-after-control-impact design (BACI). This effort will be critical in guiding future reef emplacement in the Grand Bay estuary and is expected to demonstrate the ability of constructed reefs to provide functional habitat and reduce wave energy, thereby increasing productivity and slowing marsh loss.
Presenters Jonathan Pitchford
Grand Bay NERR
Co-authors
MA
Michael Archer
Grand Bay NERR
MB
Michael Brochard
MDMR - NERR
KS
Kathryn Smith
U.S. Geological Survey
MV
Matthew Virden
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
ES
Eric Sparks
Mississippi State University And Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant
Precise Elevation Thresholds Associated with Salt Marsh-Upland Ecotones along the Mississippi Gulf CoastView Abstract 3-Minute Lightning Talk
04:30 PM - 05:30 PM2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC
Salt marshes exist in shallow-gradient landscapes where microtopographic changes on the order of centimeters to decimeters can drastically alter plant species composition. Thus, salt marshes are highly vulnerable to the effects of relative sea level rise and altered sediment supply. Of increasing importance within these systems is understanding the precise elevation and topographic gradient at which ecotonal transitions occur between lower-intermediate salt marsh platforms and upland wooded ecological communities. These narrow ecotones exist where subtle environmental changes result in dramatic changes in plant species composition and dominance. Thus, they potentially may be used to quantify and predict marsh transgression. The goal of this research was to use field surveys to quantify the elevation at which marsh-upland ecotone transitions occur within Mississippi’s coastal salt marshes. Elevation and slope was measured using parallel line transects (n = 33) extending from the intermediate marsh platform through marsh-upland ecotones sampled at ~1 m intervals using high precision integrated GNSS and traditional surveying methods at 12 sites located among 5 coastal preserves on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Ecotones occurred in narrow elevation ranges across all combined sites (mean = 0.475 m, interquartile range (IQR) = .099 m) and individual coastal preserve sites Biloxi (mean = 0.424 m, IQR = .124 m), Grand Bay (mean = 0.544 m, IQR = .098 m), Hancock (mean = 0.468 m, IQR = .075 m), Pascagoula (mean = 0.357 m, IQR = .025 m), and Wolf (mean = 0.475 m, IQR = .082 m) respectively. Initial analysis suggests local maxima along first-derivative topographic profiles and rates of change (second-derivative) may prove useful in identifying and modeling ecotones. Defining the highly precise elevation thresholds at which marsh-upland ecotones occurs will assist in predicting marsh sustainability and upland transgression under continued relative sea level rise.
Presenters Carlton Anderson
University Of Southern Mississippi
Co-authors
GC
Gregory Carter
The University Of Southern Mississippi
Margaret Waldron
University Of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast Geospatial Center
easy scroll
2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC Boat Wake Dynamics in "No-Wake" Zones
2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC Saint Stanislaus Nurdle Patrol
2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC Shorelines, submerged aquatic vegetation, and their relat...
2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC Spatial Patterns of Marsh Erosion and Expansion in the Pa...
2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC Vegetative Community and Health Assessment of a Construct...
2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC Assessing Recovery of Ecosystem Structure and Function in...
2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC Comprehensive monitoring of constructed reefs in the Gran...
2020/12/02 22:30:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:30:00 UTC Precise Elevation Thresholds Associated with Salt Marsh-U...
Mississippi State Coastal Research and Extension Center
Saint Stanislaus
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research and Extension Center
University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast Geospatial Center
The University of Southern Missisippi
+ 3 more speakers. View All
No moderator for this session!
Dr. Jessica Lunt
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research and Extension Center
University of Mississippi
US Geological Survey
+ 39 more attendees. View All
Dr. Stephen SempierThank you for attending. If you watch these presentations after the conclusion of the session, you can still ask questions via the Q&A box. The questions will be sent by email to the speakers.
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Dr. Stephen SempierDon't miss tonight's live social event that starts at 5:45. There will be breakout rooms and opportunities to see and talk with people you know and don't know. This session will remain open until 5:30 so please continue to chat and share Q and A's.
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Carlton AndersonThanks Steve! Eric's work is very interesting as well!
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Dr. Stephen SempierCarlton, nice presentation. Eric Weingarten gave a presentation earlier today in an HCE session and looks like some complimentary work in similar locations (but not duplicative).
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Dr. Jonathan PitchfordThanks Steve. I'm excited to see how they work too!
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Dr. Stephen Sempier.....learn what worked well and what approaches could be modified in the future.
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Dr. Stephen SempierJonathan, exciting to learn that there will be new constructed reefs soon and that there is a longer term monitoring plan to learn pro Thanks for sharing.
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Dr. Stephen SempierJulia, interesting that 10 times more storage in reference site. definitely didn't realize there could be that much discrepancy. Thanks for sharing the info!
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Dr. Julia Cherry It was surprising, but perhaps to be expected for that site where the topsoil was excavated to achieve the desired elevation. It was starting from scratch in terms of carbon and organic matter in the soils. I'm curious to see what the other sites reveal.
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Dr. Stephen SempierWe're getting many questions now. Please feel free to chat comments here and use the Q and A boxes liberally.
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Dr. Patrick BiberThanks Steve!
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Dr. Stephen SempierGreat talk Patrick. Hopefully over time we'll see constructed sites functioning more like natural sites.
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Dr. Stephen SempierMaggie, thanks for sharing. Important work, even if we are moving in the wrong direction regarding marsh habitat. Important to have this baseline data and keep tracking trends!
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Dr. Stephen SempierThanks David for sharing. Great application of drones. Plus probably a fun part of the project.
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Mr. David Malcolm Thank you so much, Dr. Sempier! I'm very thankful to have been able to do this work.
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Dr. Stephen SempierGrant, exellent presentation. Cannot believe you and others were able to pick up more than 35,000 nurdles!
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Grant Sides When we first started, our teacher said we could have one bonus point per nurdle found. I'm not sure she was expecting us to come back with over 1,000 in the first day!
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Dr. Stephen Sempier That's motivation! Guessing you all got A+'s!
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Dr. Stephen SempierYou can follow presentations in order they are listed or skip. If you are following in order then Skylar's just concluded. Nice job Skylar!
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Dr. Stephen Sempier Hello. I will be moderating this session. Please view the presentation schedule for this session. All presentation videos are available on demand once the session opens. The Q&A tab has a dropdown menu where you can identify which speaker you wish to send a question. Please use the Q&A feature to ask the speakers questions, and use the chat to for general conversation (“Great talk, etc.”) or to let me know of technical problems.
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