Healthy Coastal Ecosystems Virtual 3-Minute Lightning Talk
Dec 01, 2020 04:00 PM - Dec 31, 2020 05:00 PM(America/Chicago)
20201201T1600 20201201T1700 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.

The response of bats and their insect prey to different coastal upland habitat management techniquesView Abstract Watch Recording
3-Minute Lightning Talk 04:00 PM - 05:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2020/12/01 22:00:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:00:00 UTC
Coastal uplands are home to a variety of flora and fauna, including bats. Bats play a crucial role within ecosystems, but global declines in some bat populations have reduced many of the ecological and economic services bats provide. The greatest threats bats face within the United States are habitat loss, disturbances causing loss of cave hibernacula and maternity roosts, decline of food resources, white nose syndrome, and wind farm turbines. Many forested areas are managed in efforts to improve overall forest habitat quality and increase biodiversity. Understanding how bats respond to land management induced changes within forest habitat is necessary for the conservation of these species. Recently, there have been several large-scale land management projects associated with oil spill funds, including the study site for this project – The Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GNDNERR), in Jackson County, Mississippi. This project will determine if the activity and diversity of bats and their insect prey is affected by different coastal upland land habitat management techniques, such as prescribed fire and mechanical clearing, within the GNDNERR. Analysis of bat diversity and activity will be assessed using acoustic surveys using bat call recorders placed within recently burned, mechanically cleared, and unmanaged areas. Black light traps will be used to trap night flying insects and malaise traps will be used to trap day flying insects for analysis of abundance and diversity relationships among potential bat prey between the land management techniques. Findings from this study could be used to inform land managers of the potential benefits and impacts of land management practices on forest bats and their insect prey.
Presenters Mandy Sartain
Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium; Mississippi State University
Co-authors
ES
Eric Sparks
Mississippi State University And Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant
Jonathan Pitchford
Grand Bay NERR
SR
Scott Rush
Mississippi State University
The Effectiveness of Living Shorelines at Preventing Coastal Erosion and Maintaining a Healthy EcosystemView Abstract Watch Recording
3-Minute Lightning Talk 04:00 PM - 05:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2020/12/01 22:00:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:00:00 UTC
There has been a constant battle with land owners and shoreline erosion. In the past, the main defense against erosion has been the construction of hardened structures. However, these structures eventually fail, require expensive maintenance, and change the ecosystem of the shoreline. This study will compare hardened shorelines to a newer alternative, called a living shoreline, as well as a natural shoreline as the control. A living shoreline is a method that often combines native vegetation and a wave dampener. The purpose of this research is to compare the functionality of natural marsh, living shorelines, and hardened shorelines at preventing erosion and maintaining a healthy ecosystem under different wave energies/exposure. The field data was collected with wave gages, YSIs, sediment cores, and vegetation quadrats. Google Earth was used to calculate erosion rates and fetch. We expect to find that living shorelines will function better at sites with lower wave energy than sites with higher wave energy. We expect that sediment and vegetation at living shorelines will resemble the sediment found in the natural marsh more so than in the hardened shoreline. The combination of vegetation and a wave dampener at a living shoreline will decrease the impact of erosion. This data on different exposure and wave energies will help managers and land owners to decide the best method to protect their property from erosion while maintaining a healthy ecosystem.
Presenters
GS
Gabrielle Spellmann
The University Of Southern Missisippi
Impacts on Marsh Vegetation During and After the Presence of Marine DebrisView Abstract Watch Recording
3-Minute Lightning Talk 04:00 PM - 05:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2020/12/01 22:00:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:00:00 UTC
Marine debris discarded in or transported onto marshes can negatively impact vegetation and shoreline stability. Such loss of habitat is of concern to coastal areas in the northern Gulf of Mexico due to ongoing habitat degradation and erosion as well as receding shorelines resulting from sea-level rise. This study aims to quantify the loss of vegetation due to the presence of debris for variable intervals of time as well as the recovery rates with and without restoration efforts after the removal of debris. Approximately 0.5 m^2 plots in Grand Bay, MS will be covered using two common types of debris items (wire crab pots and dense plastic squares intended to mimic opaque debris) for varying periods of time at both shoreline and higher marsh locations. Monthly measurements of vegetation density, vegetation shoot height, elevation profile, sediment grain size, and spatial extent of impact of the item will be collected to assess changes in marsh dynamics. After each sequential time period, debris from a subset of plots will be removed. Following removal, half of the plots will be re-planted, while the rest will be left to recover without intervention. Recovery will be measured by the same parameters as when the debris was present. At the conclusion, all plots that have not naturally recovered will be re-planted to minimize any negative impacts of the study. Data from this project will provide useful spatial and temporal information for making critical decisions when prioritizing the urgency and location of wetland cleanup sites from ongoing litter accumulation and sudden debris spreading disturbances such as in the aftermath of hurricanes.
Presenters Anthony Vedral
Mississippi State Coastal Research And Extension Center
Co-authors
ES
Eric Sparks
Mississippi State University And Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant
Volunteers Gain an Understanding of the Vital Role Oysters Play in the Ecosystem Through a Hands-on Learning Experience View Abstract Watch Recording
3-Minute Lightning Talk 04:00 PM - 05:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2020/12/01 22:00:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:00:00 UTC
Oyster reefs play a vital role in the ecosystem aiding in the removal of algae from the water column, providing habitat for more than 300 different species, and helping to protect the coast from erosion. The Mississippi Oyster Gardening Program is a volunteer-based project that focuses on educating citizens on the role oysters play in the environment. Volunteers, also known as “Oyster Gardeners,” receive spat set on whole shell from an oyster hatchery at the beginning of the season, typically May through June. Throughout the season (May/June – December), gardeners provide nursery phase care and protect the growing oysters by removing predators such as blue crabs, stone crabs and oyster drills from the gardens, removing biofouling such as mud and algae to optimize feeding. Gardeners track growth rates by taking and reporting oyster height measurements to the program. Established in 2016, the program is now in its fifth year of oyster gardening with 50 sites throughout coastal Mississippi. Future plans of the program include bringing lesson plans to classrooms focusing on oyster ecology and oyster anatomy to further the educational component. In addition, kiosk style displays that highlight oyster impacts on the ecosystem and how to get involved in the program will be placed in high traffic areas. To date, with a partnership among MASGC and MDMR, and funded by NFWF, the program has reached over 200 gardeners who have produced over 100,000 oysters that were planted on restoration reefs in the Mississippi Sound and represent a restorative potential of 5 acres and an economic impact of $107,155.49.
Presenters Rayne Palmer
Auburn University, Alabama Cooperative Extension, MS-AL Sea Grant
Introducing Students to the Concept of Microplastic Pollution in Local Waters View Abstract Watch Recording
3-Minute Lightning Talk 04:00 PM - 05:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2020/12/01 22:00:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:00:00 UTC
Each year the Environmental Studies Center (ESC), which is a part of Mobile County Public Schools, holds special classes for high school Biology and Environmental Science students. This past year, the SEA ICE Program (Student Enrichment Activities in Coastal Ecology) incorporated the study of the impact of microplastics in our local waters. Working in conjunction with the Marine Debris Specialist at Mississippi State University Extension, students collected and analyzed water samples from local waters. Data was collected on the number of microplastics found and reported to an online database. Students were able to see firsthand how plastics remain in the aquatic environment and the impact they have on the ecosystem. The program was designed to bring awareness of how the global dependence of plastics negatively affects the environment and to encourage students to make better choices.
Presenters
TJ
Tracy Jay
Environmental Studies Center
Co-authors
TL
Troy Latham
Environmental Studies Center
Fast-track your career as a Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy FellowView Abstract Watch Recording
3-Minute Lightning Talk 04:00 PM - 05:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2020/12/01 22:00:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:00:00 UTC
Are you a graduate student interested in managing ocean and coastal resources? The NOAA Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship can allow you to work in Washington, D.C., for one year to help protect marine resources while learning more about national issues that involve natural resources. A competitive application process will match you with a federal agency or Congressional office that can benefit from your knowledge and ability to communicate science to policymakers. Knauss fellows help manage our nation’s resources, gain hands-on experience in how laws and regulations are created and implemented, learn about different career paths, develop diverse professional connections, improve leadership skills and more.
Presenters Melissa Schneider
Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium
Co-authors
LL
Loretta Leist
Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium
Unchartered Waters: A Multi-State Partnership to Assess Mangrove Expansion in the Northern Gulf of MexicoView Abstract Watch Recording
3-Minute Lightning Talk 04:00 PM - 05:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2020/12/01 22:00:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:00:00 UTC
Background: Mangroves are woody trees and shrubs that live along tropical and subtropical shorelines in both marine and brackish environments. There are 80 species found worldwide, with three species historically found in south Florida. However, coupled with environmental factors and warming in the northern Gulf of Mexico, there has been an increase in observations of mangroves in recent decades. Therefore, a baseline survey was needed to provide data on mangrove recruitment. The public was also educated about this emerging coastal shoreline topic through survey volunteerism. Purpose/Methods: Multiple agencies in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida collaborated on this project with training and oversight from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Mangrove Sighting Network Initiative Team. These agency professionals then trained and coordinated interns and volunteers to assist surveys that provided identification and mangrove locations in their respective states and counties. Trainings were conducted on monitoring protocols, basic mangrove biology, as well as identification of plants that could be mistaken for mangroves. Surveys were conducted in 100 meter transect lengths within each participating county and undertaken from spring to late summer, beginning in 2018. Results /Conclusion: Over 30 participants conducted surveys along the coast of Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle. Though zeros were recorded for many transects, the wide search area and public education was valuable. During the last three years, over 500 mangroves were reported from the Florida panhandle, and one was found on Horn Island in Mississippi. There are plans to continue the survey effort.
Presenters Ray Bodrey
UF/IFAS Extension Gulf County/Florida Sea Grant
Co-authors
EB
Eric Brunden
JC
Just Cebrian
Northern Gulf Institute
SJ
Scott Jackson
UF/IFAS Extension Bay County/Florida Sea Grant
EL
Erik Lovestrand
UF/IFAS Extension Franklin County/Florida Sea Grant
AM
Aaron Macy
The University Of Southern Missisippi
RO
Rick O'Connor
Florida Sea Grant
SP
Scott Phipps
Weeks Bay NERR/ADCNR
CP
Cassy Porter
Grand Bay NERR
MS
Mike Shelton
ADCNR/Weeks Bay Reserve
CS
Caitlin Snyder
Florida DEP
A new and improved low-cost DIY wave gaugeView Abstract Watch Recording
3-Minute Lightning Talk 04:00 PM - 05:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2020/12/01 22:00:00 UTC - 2020/12/31 23:00:00 UTC
Waves have profound effects on coastal geomorphology, but the understanding of wave climate effects on coastal ecology is limited due, in part, to the high cost of commercial wave gauges. High-cost gauges also limit the scope of coastal wave models and the ability of coastal land managers to design effective restoration, conservation and enhancement projects. To address these limitations, we built wave gauges using Arduino microcontrollers and accessories and tested their performance alongside commercial gauges (RBR Solo D 3 loggers) in a wave flume at the University of South Alabama. Results of that testing indicated agreement between the gauges was excellent in all wave channel tests with mean differences between pressure readings consistently near zero and with 95% of all differences within 1 cm of static water depth. While these gauges performed well, they were limited by their battery life (5 days measuring at 10Hz). We addressed this issue by utilizing a simpler microcontroller (Adafruit Feather 32u4 Adalogger) and modified operational coding to extend the battery life to 15 days with a smaller battery. The ability to use a smaller battery also allowed the size of the gauge housing to be reduced. A cheaper microcontroller, battery, and housing led to a decrease in DIY gauge parts cost from $300 to $160, which is 10-14x less than their commercial counterparts. Paired field deployments of the old and new DIY wave gauges in Back Bay, MS indicated that the two gauge types performed similarly with no discernable differences. Additionally, to make wave measurements as accessible as possible, we created a website (http://coastal.msstate.edu/waves) to house the parts list, operational code, how-to videos, and other materials related to the wave gauges.
Presenters
ES
Eric Sparks
Mississippi State University And Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant
Co-authors
MV
Matthew Virden
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Nigel Temple
WSP
Bret Webb
University Of South Alabama
AL
Anna Linhoss
Mississippi State University
Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium
Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium; Mississippi State University
The University of Southern Missisippi
Mississippi State Coastal Research and Extension Center
Auburn University, Alabama Cooperative Extension, MS-AL Sea Grant
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University of Mississippi
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research and Extension Center
USM-GCRL-FISHERIES CENTER
 JIM FRANKS
USM-GCRL-FISHERIES CENTER
The University of Southern Mississippi
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