S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

Healthy Coastal Ecosystems Research Projects

Rain and Tide: Assessing Coastal Stream Flow and Compound Flooding Risk

Principal Investigator: Tim Callahan, College of Charleston
Co-Principal Investigator: Joshua Robinson, Robinson Design Engineers

Flooding is a widely recognized problem throughout coastal South Carolina. The goal of this project is to provide, through the use of a map-based tool, site-specific information on stormwater runoff and tidally-driven inundation to areas in coastal zones where these two processes exhibit (or have the potential for) compound flooding risk (CFR).

Using existing data from previous studies and future sea level rise forecasts, the purpose of this project is to create a user-friendly, map-based tool to estimate CFR for a particular property of interest based on watershed (land use and land cover, soils, antecedent moisture condition) and the receiving water body conditions for storm events of different amounts and intensities. The results will be useful for stakeholders assessing compound flooding hazard, and will also be useful at the regional scale by improving conceptual models of stormwater runoff and tidal flooding.

Coastal and Estuarine Acidification in Long Bay, South Carolina

Principal Investigator: Angelos Hannides, Coastal Carolina University
Co-Principal Investigators: Danielle Viso and Susan Libes, Coastal Carolina University; Janet Reimer, Southeast Ocean and Coastal Acidification Network (SOCAN); Emily Hall, SOCAN and Mote Marine Laboratory

This project seeks to provide a first characterization of coastal ocean acidification (COA) using the waters of Long Bay, South Carolina (S.C.) where hypoxia (low oxygen) and acidification (in the form of low pH) have already been documented. Project findings will fill a substantial knowledge gap in the Southeast U.S. regarding spatial and temporal trends in coastal and estuarine acidification – the new knowledge generated will provide researchers and coastal managers with a first clear picture of the degree and extent of the COA problem in S.C. waters, and the main drivers behind it. Data from this local characterization will be used in informal and formal education settings to increase public awareness of COA as a statewide coastal concern. The project will serve as a pilot effort to guide future expansion to the rest of the state’s coastline.

How Does Disturbance Shape Avian Community Composition and Diversity in Ephemeral Wetlands?

Principal Investigator: Daniel McGlinn, College of Charleston
Co-Principal Investigators: Stacey Lance, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory; Lisa Lord, The Longleaf Alliance; Lucy Davis, College of Charleston

Wetlands provide humans with critical ecosystem services and serve as important repositories of biodiversity; however, little is known about the importance of small isolated ephemeral wetlands which are largely ignored by managers and policy makers.

Ephemeral wetlands in the south eastern coastal plain support a host of specialist plant and herpetological species, but it is unknown if they support unique bird communities. The purpose of our study is to examine how disturbances – prescribed fire and tree thinning treatments – will alter ephemeral wetlands and their constituent avifauna. We will collect avian point count, vegetation, and wetland attribute data at two field sites managed for long-leaf pine restoration with prescribed fire. Additionally, wetlands at one of the sites will receive tree thinning treatments in an effort to promote herbaceous plants and prolong the hydroperiod of these wetlands. In contrast, we expect to find that thinning treatments may reduce bird species richness.

Our study will provide critical information on what bird assemblages are supported by ephemeral wetlands and how these communities are influenced by management-based disturbances such as prescribed fire and tree thinning. Throughout our research we will engage directly with multiple land management NGOs and private landowners to develop management strategies that consider avian communities.