The focus of CSCOR's land and resource use research is to facilitate
the development of ecological forecasting models as tools for decision
makers. Land use ecological
forecasts apply research results to management
problems, allowing coastal managers to better predict future environmental
conditions using current conditions and various management scenarios.
forecasts can provide coastal managers with practical
information for better ecosystem management in the face of cumulative
impacts of multiple land use activities.
CSCOR research projects that currently involve understanding impacts
of land use on coastal ecosystems include a multiple stressor study
in the Barataria watershed of Louisiana, South Florida restoration
effects on Florida Bay, hypoxia research in the northern Gulf of Mexico
and other U.S. coastal areas and fish to model animal exposure to hazardous
For more information on CSCOR's land and resource use research programs click here.
Florida Bay and the Florida Keys
Since 1994 CSCOR has been an important Federal partner in funding
interdisciplinary research in southern Florida to predict the future
effects of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) on Florida Bay, the Florida Keys and adjacent waters. CSCOR's funded research program in Florida Bay combines multi- and interdisciplinary studies from currents,
nutrients, microbes, plankton and upper trophic food webs to provide
raw data for linked regional hydrodynamic-ecological models to forecast
the impacts of Everglades restoration on the South Florida coastal ecosystem.
Coastal ecosystems are exposed to multiple stressors resulting from
human activities that are ubiquitous and long-standing. Evaluating
and understanding these stressors requires interdisciplinary investigations
of scientists and management interests working together. The Barataria
Multiple Stressor Research Program is a 5-year project that uses overlapping
approaches for emergent, algal and pelagic food webs to determine the
effects of multiple stressors on species and ecosystems. The Barataria
watershed of Louisiana, a large estuary, is experiencing large habitat
changes, anticipates a doubled nitrogen loading, has a significantly
large fisheries yield and restoration program, and is adjacent to the
Mississippi River (largest river in North America) whose watershed
is proposed to be managed to reduce its nitrogen load.
This natural ecosystem experiment, complemented by a controlled large
river diversion ( Mississippi River ), is a unique opportunity to receive
scientific attention by a multi-disciplinary team of senior investigators.
The project is yielding useful information through designed and opportunistic
field experiments, analysis of long-term data sets, data syntheses,
ecological and econometric modeling, and historical reconstruction
of environmental change.
A multi-disciplinary team of experienced scientists is constructing
a hierarchical suite of indicators of estuarine stress over various
temporal and spatial scales, conduct uncertainty analysis of indicators,
evaluate various estuarine mitigation strategies using ecological and
economic criteria, and extend approaches to other estuaries. The outcome
will quantify the effects of eutrophication, land use, habitat change,
toxins, and other natural and anthropogenic stressors on phytoplankton, benthic and pelagic food webs, and emergent marsh.
Northern Gulf of Mexico and Other Coastal Areas
The northern Gulf of Mexico is becoming increasingly noted for the
state-size area of low oxygenated water (i.e., hypoxia) that forms
nearly every summer off the mouth of and west of the mouth of the Mississippi
River. Two CSCOR-funded projects in the northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOMEX
and ARC) are creating the necessary knowledge base to eventually forecast
the timing, location and ecological effects of hypoxia. A third project,
the Coastal Hypoxia
A long-term continuing CSCOR hypoxia research study in the Northern
Gulf of Mexico (NGOMEX) is documenting the temporal and spatial extent
of the hypoxic (low oxygen) zone over the Louisiana continental shelf.
This project provides a consistent and sequential series of long-term
data that document the temporal and spatial extent of the hypoxic zone
over the Louisiana continental shelf. The project collects hydrographic,
chemical, and biological data related to the development and maintenance
of hypoxia over seasonal cycles; enhances existing hypoxic zone surveys
with a high resolution, undulating sensor package, continues public
outreach and will add a web site for ready access to hypoxia information.
The project studies help better define the relationships among nutrient
fluxes, nutrient ratios, and carbon production and flux.
The second project (Aquatic Research Consortium) is characterizing
habitat use of upper trophic levels (e.g., fish and shrimp) and commercial
shrimpers over the Louisiana continental shelf relative to fine-scale
spatial structure of oxygen. The goal is to develop statistical forecast
models relating distribution, feeding success, and spatial overlap
to important environmental variables; and to compare community structure
and associated impacts of hypoxia at small and regional spatial scales.
The third CSCOR land use-related project (Coastal Hypoxia Research
Program) is developing modeling tools and information which will be
used by resource managers to assess alternative management strategies
and make informed decisions regarding hypoxia in U.S. coastal waters.
This project is focused on U.S. coastal areas exclusive of the northern
Gulf of Mexico .
Fish as Models of Land Use Impacts
The Aquatic Research Consortium (ARC) addresses problems involving
environmental and industrial, watershed security, and using innovative
laboratory fish models to accurately and economically predict risks
of aquatic contamination. The ARC fosters a team approach to solving
industrial, watershed security, and environmental problems using innovative
laboratory fish models to accurately and economically predict risks,
particularly those related to human health effects of aquatic contamination
and to the processing of drinking water. The consortium consists of
two principal components: the College of Marine Sciences , The University
of Southern Mississippi (USM) and the Molecular Biosciences Research
Program and Xiphophorus Genetic Stock Center at Southwest Texas State
University (SWT). The ARC serves as a resource to test newly developed
methods and technologies to ensure accurate, dependable, economical
and useful data on which risk management and regulatory decisions can
The mission of the ARC is to bring contemporary scientific methodologies
to bear on assessment of health impacts of the Nation's aquatic resources.
This mission will be accomplished by application of recently developed
microarray technology in model fish species to develop capabilities
to delineate specific genetic changes that hallmark environmental conditions
as assessed by analysis of feral fish. Further, the ARC will serve
as a resource to test newly developed methods and technologies to ensure
accurate, dependable, economical and useful data on which risk management
and regulatory decisions can be based.