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FY13-14 – Coastal and Ocean Landscape



Modeling the Runoff of Volume Sensitive Tidal Headwaters for Improved Stormwater Management    
PI: April Turner, S.C.  Sea Grant Consortium

RELEVANCE: Beaufort County is a community very concerned about the threat of stormwater degradation of its estuarine environments as it is an area of rapid growth (83% increase between 1990-2006). The local population is concerned that, in addition to runoff transporting biological and chemical contaminants, the “flashiness” of salinity changes due to stormwater influx of freshwater is negatively impacting larval recruitment and survival of shellfish, crustaceans, and fish in the region’s salt marshes. Local residents are particularly concerned about rapid salinity changes. Three barriers have been identified that are limiting implementation of Beaufort County’s volume control plan: (1) the lack of credible scientific data necessary to identify those watersheds and portions of creeks, which are most sensitive to stormwater runoff; (2) lack of internal capacity to conduct the necessary studies; and (3) funding constraints on collecting the data.

RESPONSE: Federal funding from the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) Science Collaborative was secured to enable a project team (including the Consortium staff) to assess priority estuarine waterways in Beaufort County. The ongoing project entails modeling the translation of precipitation inputs into changes in the salinity regime of the water bodies of concern. The NERR support allowed the researchers to expand the scope of work from two waterways to include monitoring five watersheds simultaneously during the coming year.

RESULTS: To date, the project team has conducted workshops engaging local stakeholders in a collaborative process to garner local knowledge and input to ensure that study results will inform stormwater management planning efforts in Beaufort County. Monitoring, data collection, and analysis of results are underway and will continue through Fall 2014. Ultimately, project efforts will provide Beaufort County with credible data identifying those critical waters most sensitive to stormwater runoff.

RECAP: In collaboration with its partners, the SC Sea Grant Consortium is responding to stakeholder needs by providing Beaufort County with data needed to inform its stormwater policies for incorporation into their next Stormwater Management Plan (2016-2026).

Tidal Creek Summit Fosters Linkages Among Scientists, Managers, and Community Leaders                
PI: April Turner, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

RELEVANCE: Changes associated with coastal development can stress tidal creeks, which are the primary aquatic link between uplands and estuaries. Tidal creek degradation in turn may have detrimental impacts on water quality, fisheries, public health and the quality of coastal living. Throughout the Southeast region, many communities face similar issues in understanding and appropriately managing tidal creek systems. Research scientists, agencies and community managers have expressed frustration with the lack of communication between the groups and the absence of any opportunity to build and maintain lines of communication.

RESPONSE: To bridge the “science to management” gap, the Consortium, in partnership with North Carolina Sea Grant, North Carolina State University, and Georgia Sea Grant, organized the second Tidal Creek Summit in Wilmington, NC to identify the current state of the knowledge regarding tidal creek research,  to identify management needs for tidal creek areas, to evaluate the current and potential strategies for protecting and enhancing the ecology and function of tidal creeks and to provide a forum for scientists, natural resources managers, conservationists and the ecological restoration community to share experiences and network with colleagues.

RESULTS: With more than 160 participants, 25 partners and 11 sponsors, the event provided a forum to encourage the exchange of information on the status of tidal creeks in the Southeast region and foster partnerships. A summary report is being developed, which will serve as the spring board for developing a white paper with the regional partners which will summarize the present state of knowledge about tidal creek ecosystems, identify future research and management needs, and serve as the foundation for the creation of a regional Sea Grant tidal creek initiative.

RECAP: The SC Sea Grant Consortium, together with a number of partners, convened the second Tidal creek Summit to encourage the exchange of information on the status of tidal creeks in the Southeast region and foster partnerships for the development of regional tidal creek initiatives.

Viewing and Discussion of Ocean Frontiers Documentary Leads to Favorable Perceptions of Ocean Planning
PI: Samantha Bruce, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

The stories in the documentary Ocean Frontiers help audiences understand key principles of ecosystem-based management and coastal and marine spatial planning, which are the cornerstones of the National Ocean Policy. The film features on-the-ground reporting from regions that are at the forefront of implementing promising new approaches to ocean and coastal management.

RESPONSE: A viewing of the documentary Ocean Frontiers, and a follow-on panel discussion, moderated by the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, was held April 19 at the College of Charleston, and hosted by the College of Charleston’s Master of Environmental Studies (MES) Graduate Program and the South Carolina Coastal Information Network.  Approximately 100 individuals participated, representing the academic faculty and student community, coastal management agencies, and the public. Panelists included representatives from the Governors’ South Atlantic Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, and SCDHEC.

RESULTS: A post workshop survey asked participants how much they knew about ocean planning before watching the film and also asked if their knowledge about ocean planning had increased after watching the film. A majority (83%) indicated a significant increase in knowledge, as well as favorable perceptions of ocean planning (100%).

RECAP: A Consortium-led viewing and panel discussion of the documentary Ocean Frontiers at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC led to increased knowledge and favorable perceptions of ocean planning.

Examining Long-term Scientific Datasets to Document Changes in Key  Estuarine Food Webs in South Carolina                                                
PIs: Juliana Harding, Coastal Carolina University and Dennis Allen, University of South Carolina

Many of the resident species that occur in South Carolina tidal creeks and estuaries have wide geographic distributions and are generalists with broad habitat requirements. In the coming decades, predicted temperature changes in South Carolina coastal systems are within their limits of thermal tolerance. However, changes in physiology and life history patterns could be expected with increasing water temperatures. Resident species are likely to respond by changing the timing and intensity of spawning, gonad conditioning, recruitment, and predator-prey relationships set by co-occurrence of life history stages with other resident species or transient species that seasonally use estuarine and tidal creek habitats for nursery and forage grounds. Integrating information from more than 30 years of measurements and the proposed process-oriented experiments will provide new insights in the patterns, directions, rates, and mechanisms of changes to these populations and habitats.

RESPONSE: Sea Grant researchers are defining the ecological effects of increased winter water temperatures on intertidal estuarine and tidal creek habitats using oysters and gobies as indicator species. The effects of increased water temperature on reproduction, survival, and oyster-goby interactions will be examined to determine what impacts these changes might have on the estuary’s food chain.

Researchers successfully documented the beginning of the 2013 spawning season, and initial results indicate that gobies are hatching later in the spring than expected, when water temperature is warmer. Potential long-term changes in the seasonal availability of oyster larvae are being evaluated using the archived collections. Ongoing feeding experiments in the laboratory are examining goby larvae consumption of oyster larvae versus other possible planktonic prey. These experiments will provide new insights into the patterns, rates, and mechanisms of changes for these populations and habitats as water temperature continues to warm.          

Gobies are hatching in the water column later than expected, which may have consequences for its feeding patterns on oyster larvae. Changes in the interactions between these two ecologically important species could have ripple effects on other ecosystem relationships, and thus have an impact on estuarine food webs in South Carolina’s tidal creeks, salt marshes, and bays.

Last updated: 9/28/2015 11:34:24 AM
FY13-14 – Coastal and Ocean Landscape


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