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Human activities create threats that have consequences for freshwater ecosystems and, in most watersheds, observed ecological responses are the result of complex interactions among multiple threats and their associated ecological alterations. Here we discuss the value of considering multiple threats in research and management, offer suggestions for filling knowledge gaps, and provide guidance for addressing the urgent management challenges posed by multiple threats in freshwater ecosystems.
Authors: Laura Craig, Julian Olden, Angela Arthington, Sally Entrekin, Charles Hawkins, John Kelly, Theodore Kennedy, Bryan Maitland, Emma Rosi, Allison Roy, David Strayer, Jennifer Tank, Amie West and Matthew Wooten
The National Estuarine Research Reserve System has a proven record of successfully transferring and translating reserve science to a broad suite of educators through teacher workshops. In recent years, teachers expressed a need for curricula, data sets, and professional development related to climate change.
This project enabled Northeast reserves to develop and over a series of free, high-quality Teachers on the Estuary workshops for sixth through twelth grade teachers focused on climate change impacts on coastal habitats, using Sentinel Site and System-Wide Monitoring Program data collected at the reserves.
Southern California lagoons are complex environments that require informed management practices. In their natural states, many of these lagoons periodically open and close to the sea. However, watershed alterations and lagoon inlet modifications have reduced their capacity to open and close as they usually do.
In response, coastal managers have begun to manage these lagoons to remain open for water quality purposes. However, scientists and managers have recently been reconsidering this one-size-fits-all approach to lagoon management. Managing a lagoon mouth to be continually open can be expensive. It also may compromise the lagoon’s unique biodiversity and ecosystem services.
This project analyzed existing lagoon mouth literature and long-term monitoring data from the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve to provide managers with the information needed to improve the health of Southern California’s coastal lagoons.
The National Estuarine Research Reserve System forms a network of coastal sites protected for long-term stewardship, research, and education. To support this mission, the reserve system established the System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) in 1995 to conduct long-term monitoring of water quality, weather, coastal habitat, and biological communities using consistent methods. The monitoring program is critical for reserve coastal management and research. However, realizing the full value of the program is limited by the lack of time, technical expertise, and computational resources reserves have for analyzing large, complex data sets.
National Estuarine Research Reserves have been designing and implementing a new approach to collaborative science since 2009. This approach emphasizes the integration of scientific knowledge with local management and place-based knowledge. Collaborative processes facilitate the co-creation of knowledge to integrate diverse perspectives, identify common interests, and use resources effectively so that scientific findings are management ready, and can be applied to address the most pressing coastal management issues.
There is growing evidence that the New England coast faces mounting challenges due to sea level rise. One of the ways sea level rise threatens the coast is through degradation and loss of salt marshes. Salt marshes play an important role for society in maintaining healthy fisheries, mitigating shoreline erosion, reducing flooding, and protecting water quality. Research has identified southern New England salt marshes as among the most vulnerable in the country, prompting researchers and practitioners to evaluate mechanisms of resilience and opportunities for conservation and management of these important ecosystems.
This project develops educational materials and tools to educate the general public and decision-makers about the ways engineered land-use changes affect water quality, fisheries, and human health in the region around Grand Bay, Mississippi. Research from a previous Science Collaborative research project, Legacy Effects of Land-Use Change and Nitrogen Source Shifts on a Benchmark System, will inform the educational materials produced. Researchers reviewed the history of land-use change in the region and how it shifted nutrient and pathogen sources within the Grand Bay system over time. At the end of the project, the research team and stakeholders worked together to determine what educational outreach materials produced from the research results were of the greatest value to enhance local water quality.
This project transfers risk communication materials and training sessions developed through a collaboration between the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve and NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, with the help of a risk communication expert. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the Jacques Cousteau Reserve and the Office for Coastal Management recognized that coastal decision-makers needed effective risk communication skills to help community decision-makers and residents understand and implement resiliency planning and risk hazard management. Their collaboration resulted in the development of a new Office for Coastal Management risk communication training for coastal decision-makers.
This project will promote watershed stewardship by developing video modules in American Sign Language, providing professional development for teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing, and field experiences for their students. The project team will develop an American Sign Language video module focusing on the concepts and vocabulary of watersheds and estuaries. Education coordinators from the Wells, Waquoit Bay, and Narragansett Bay reserves, along with content experts, will provide training for teachers and interpreters at a Teachers on the Estuary workshop at the Waquoit Bay Reserve.
Salt marshes and tidal creeks maintain healthy water, protect coastal communities from flooding and erosion, provide nursery and essential habitat for commercial and recreational fisheries, and support recreational activities that are a part of the coastal lifestyle. This project seeks to educate K-12 students on the importance of restoring these ecosystems, using approaches that also meet current science curriculum standards. The Guana Tolomato Matanzas, ACE Basin, North Inlet, North Carolina, and Sapelo Island reserves will create a region-wide student-driven program for teachers that will further the understanding of restoring degraded or lost estuary habitats.