Upper Concourse
Jan 24, 2023 05:00 PM - 07:00 PM(America/Chicago)
20230124T1700 20230124T1900 America/Chicago Reception and Poster Session Upper Concourse 2023 Bays and Bayous Symposium mbnep@mobilebaynep.com
88 attendees saved this session
Nurdle Patrol at Saint Stanislaus 1
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Since 2019, the Saint Stanislaus Marine Science Program has been working with the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, at the University of Texas at Austin, to monitor nurdle pollution. Nurdles are microplastics, less than five millimeters in size, that are melted down to make all other plastic products. Nurdles are escaping into our environment from manufacturing companies when they are packaged for transport on trains and barges. Nurdles, and all plastics, are known to absorb chemicals from the environment that can bioaccumulate in our food chains. As nurdles escape into our environment, animals mistake them for food, leading to detrimental effects on their health and populations. Nurdles have been found in twenty-eight of thirty-two countries and are currently being found all along the Gulf of Mexico region. Our community relies heavily on the fishing and seafood industry, so we feel the personal effects of nurdle pollution. Saint Stanislaus is doing monthly surveys on the beach in front of our school. Each survey takes ten minutes, looking for nurdles in the new strandlines. We then report this data to Nurdle Patrol which uses the information to work on stricter permit requirements for plastic pellet manufacturers and transporters, at the state and federal levels. In 2021 Saint Stanislaus collected a total of 10,695 nurdles on the beach in front of our school. So far, we have collected 5,373 nurdles in 2022. In total, 51,026 nurdles have been collected on our beach in front of our school since January 2019.
Presenters
AM
Avery Matheson
Saint Stanislaus Marine Department
Oyster Gardening Program at Saint Stanislaus 2
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Since 2017, the Saint Stanislaus College (SSC) Marine Science Program, under the supervision of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC) and Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR), has participated in the Mississippi Oyster Gardening Program. During this time, SSC has grown 21,222 oysters for restoration purposes in the Mississippi Sound. On August 16th, 2022 we received 1,200 oyster shells, covered in spat, averaging 0.6 mm. Since then, we have provided these juvenile oysters with a safe environment, free from predation. Every seven to ten days, the SSC Marine Science Interns and Marine Science students clean the oysters by removing sediment and algae, measure their growth, monitor water quality parameters with emphasis on salinity, and remove predators. We currently have seven gardens at the end of our pier, with plans to expand to 14 gardens. This year's oysters are currently averaging 25 mm and need more room to grow. We will continue to maintain and monitor the oysters' growth until they reach maturity, at which time we will return them to MASGC and Mississippi DMR. From there, the oysters that we grow will be counted, measured, and distributed around the Mississippi Gulf Coast to be placed on permanent oyster reefs where they can reproduce and contribute to future oyster populations. They will also create shelter for numerous species of fish and crustaceans. In addition, these oysters will help prevent erosion of the coastline for the many years to come.
Presenters
HG
Hill Gainey
St. Stanislaus Marine Science Department
Viability of Native Vegetation and Locally Sourced Substrate Mix in Green Roof Modules under South Louisiana’s Subtropical Climate 4
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Green roofs are increasingly used in urban areas where space constraints limit the use of other stormwater management practices. Green roofs are substrate-based architectural structures that accommodate a variety of plants to reduce runoff and heat island effect, in addition to providing ecological, psychological, and aesthetic benefits. Due to the benefits provided, these technologies have become more common worldwide; however, there is little research on green roof plant survival in subtropical climates such as the American Gulf South. Subtropical climates often present more drastic conditions such as heavy wind and rain, frequent drought, and heat stress. Louisiana's climate presents all the latter plus a high humidity, which means that typical green roof vegetation such as sedum tends to suffer from root rot. Since the vegetation layer on a green roof is its most critical component, this study argues that native vegetation species and locally sourced substrate is most suitable for green roof construction in subtropical climates such as south Louisiana. To demonstrate the feasibility of native vegetation and locally sourced substrate, ten LiveRoof modular green roof sections were tested under Louisiana's climatic conditions over four months (August-December 2022). Variability within the study included depth (i.e. intensive vs. extensive), irrigation, and substrate mix. Plant survival and suitability was measured through: plant health; monthly plant growth; species survival; and hydrologic behavior. Results presented will outline suitable native plant palettes, soil substrates, and the potential for flood and heat island effect reduction using green roof technologies in south Louisiana's cities.
Presenters
CJ
Clara Jimenez
Louisiana State University
Developmental Trajectories of Sedimentation in Restored and Created Coastal Wetlands along the Mississippi-Alabama Gulf Coast 5
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Coastal wetland loss is tied to several factors, including declines in sediment loading. A variety of restoration and creation techniques, such as mitigation and living shorelines, have been implemented to combat these losses and are thought to be more resilient. However, restored and created coastal wetlands often fail to recover ecosystem functions to levels that are similar to natural wetlands. It is unclear if this pattern extends to the recovery of sediment trapping and deposition, which are critical for wetland resilience to sea-level rise. Therefore, we compared sedimentation in created and restored wetlands of different ages and restoration types to natural wetlands along the Mississippi-Alabama coastline. We placed sediment traps in three created, six restored, and four natural tidal wetlands to quantify total sedimentation and accumulation of organic matter and carbon at each site. Additionally, we collected suspended sediment samples from adjacent open water to evaluate the sediment loading potential at each site. We found that living shorelines developed higher sedimentation rates than created, mitigation wetlands, despite having been built more recently. Additionally, sedimentation rates in living shorelines were equivalent to rates observed in natural wetlands. Collectively, our findings suggest that wetland creation and restoration techniques can produce distinct developmental trajectories, which can have consequences for sedimentation and wetland resilience.   
Presenters
MS
Morgan Sharbaugh
University Of Alabama
Co-Authors Julia Cherry
University Of Alabama, Department Of Biological Sciences
Jacob Dybiec
University Of Alabama, Department Of Biological Sciences
SR
Shelby Rinehart
University Of Alabama, Department Of Biological Sciences
Identifying Potential Drivers of Fish Community Composition on Restored Oyster Reefs in East Bay, Pensacola 6
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Oyster reef restoration typically aims to enhance or reinstate a range of ecosystem services, including restoring fish habitat values. Understanding how fish communities respond to restoration efforts can help guide future restoration efforts that wish to maximize fish habitat benefits. We surveyed fish communities across 14 cultch reefs in East Bay, Pensacola using underwater video. We found diverse assemblages, including important fisheries species such as sheepshead Archosargus probatocephalus and spotted seatrout Cynoscion nebulosus. Although oyster reefs can provide important nursery habitat, we observed few young-of-year fish in our samples, most likely due to the depth (>2 m) of these reefs. Potential drivers of variation in fish community composition were derived for each reef, including: proximity to ocean, distance to shoreline, nearest shoreline type, distance to nearest reef, substrate type, depth, as well as tidal stage and moon phase at the time of sampling. Further analyses will seek to identify the key drivers of variation in fish community structure across the East Bay reefs. Identifying the key drivers will help with future prioritization of restoration efforts by identifying candidate sites most likely to provide the greatest fish habitat benefits.
Presenters
CG
Christopher Grant
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Co-Authors Alex Rodriguez
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
RB
Ronald Baker
University Of South Alabama, Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Evapotranspiration Over Different Terrestrial Ecosystems in the Lower Mobile-Tensaw Delta Using Remote Sensing Data 7
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
The Mobile-Tensaw Delta is one of the most biodiverse regions within the United States, and is heavily understudied compared to other ecosystems of its size and significance. Different vegetation patterns can influence how water cycling occurs across the Earth's surface. In this regard, it is extremely important to track how plants can adapt and behave under critical environmental conditions. This study uses remotely sensed imagery to explore the water-use vegetation dynamics across different terrestrial ecosystem types within the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, southern Alabama. Using data obtained from NASA's Terra and Landsat satellites, evapotranspiration estimates were compared and analyzed on spatial and temporal scales. The four study areas compared in this research were evergreen forests, cultivated cropland, woody wetlands, and pasture/hay fields over roughly two decades, from 2001 to 2019. The areas displayed distinguished evapotranspiration magnitudes and temporal variability over a monthly, seasonal, and yearly basis. Our results evidence that land cover changes in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta impact the vegetation structure, which in turn affects the water-use in these areas, causing drier conditions and warmer land surface temperatures when natural ecosystems, such as mature evergreen forests, are replaced by annual crops in the region, such as cotton, corn, among others.
Presenters
SH
Skye Hellenkamp
University Of South Alabama
Co-Authors
GD
Gabriel De Oliveira
University Of South Alabama
An Exploration of Heavy Metal Contamination and Salinity Synergies on Mobile Delta Submerged Grasses 16
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
In recent decades, many species of macrophytes are in decline across the Gulf coast due to a variety of stressors including changing salinity regimes and heavy metal pollutants. Changing salinity places ionic and osmotic stress on submerged macrophytes, and in particular affects freshwater to oligohaline regions of estuaries where the plants have little tolerance for salt. Heavy metals such as cadmium (Cd) can have a variety of detrimental effects on submerged macrophytes such as oxidative stress. Less understood is how combined multiple stressors interactions, such as combined increases in salinity and heavy metal concentrations affect submerged macrophytes and their corresponding microbial community. In this study we evaluate the combined effect of salinity and Cd on Vallisneria neotropicalis, a submerged macrophyte that inhabits the oligohaline range of Mobile Bay. Salinity and Cd stressors were modulated in a three by three factorial mesocosm experiment over the course of twelve weeks. V. neotropicalis has a salinity tolerance up to 5 after which the measured growth rate is expected to be impaired. In treatments with high salinity conditions, the combined effect of Cd and salinity is expected to be more than additive, as the higher concentration of chloride ions is expected to make otherwise sulfide bound Cd more bioavailable. However, preliminary results indicate the opposite at low concentrations. V. neotropicalis demonstrates greater growth in the presence of low concentrations of both stressors than in single stressor treatments. Further work is being conducted to ascertain body burden and collocal microbial community shifts.
Presenters
CM
Christopher Mikolaitis
Dauphin Island Sea Lab/University Of South Alabama
Co-Authors
JL
John Lehrter
University Of South Alabama, Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Development of DNA Barcodes for Lepidophthalmus louisianensis and their use in Developing Blocker Primers for Fecal DNA Metabarcoding. 17
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Lepidophthalmus louisianensis is a common prey to several species of conservation or fisheries concern and plays a critical role in estuarine communities both through the bioturbation and aeration of sediments. However, despite their importance in the estuarine environments of the northern Gulf of Mexico, the diet of L. louisianensis is currently unknown. While the literature suggests that this species is a filter feeder, observations of "grazing" on their burrow walls has led some to suggest that they might be deposit feeders that use their feces to grow bacterial and fungi in their burrow walls. Our primary objective is to use fecal DNA metabarcoding to determine the diet of L. louisianensis and we propose to use environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding of the burrow walls and surrounding water to determine the diet and feeding ecology of Lepidophthalmus louisianensis by comparing the genetic composition of the feces to those of the burrow walls and the surrounding water. Metabarcoding of 4 genes COI, 16S, 18S, and rbCL is underway for the fecal, burrow wall, and water samples and these communities will be compared. A critical intermediate step in this process was the development of DNA barcode data for L. louisianensis and the use of those barcodes to generate blocker primers to prevent amplification of host DNA in fecal DNA metabarcoding reactions. Here we present the results of these efforts and discuss their importance in evaluating feeding ecology and diet in future studies
Presenters
JV
Julian Venable
Jackson State University
Co-Authors
BT
Brent Thoma
Jackson State University, Department Of Biology, Center For Marine And Environmental Genomics
Using Environmental DNA to Detect Hypoxia in Marine Waters 18
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Here we examine the ability to detect hypoxia in marine waters using changes in community composition detected through environmental DNA metabarcoding. The use of environmental DNA (eDNA) is increasingly transforming the way we monitor biodiversity in marine ecosystems and has shown promise in detecting environmental stressors in other marine habitats. Environmental DNA samples were collected using 0.22um enclosed Sterivex filters from 1-liter of seawater taken every 5 m along a vertical profile at 3 sites in the northern Gulf of Mexico, with 3 replicates per depth. One of the sites had anoxic conditions near the bottom, one with slightly hypoxic conditions near the bottom and one site with normal oxygen conditions throughout. We are conducting DNA metabarcoding of 3 loci (COI, 18S, and 16S) to compare community composition, across depths and among samples. Using these data, we hope to determine if changes in community composition caused by low oxygen conditions can be readily detected in eDNA samples.
Presenters Reneisha Sweet
Jackson State University
Co-Authors
BT
Brent Thoma
Jackson State University, Department Of Biology, Center For Marine And Environmental Genomics
Relationships Between Freshwater Discharge and Organic Matter Movement Through the Mobile Bay Estuary 19
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
To determine the function of the Mobile-Tensaw River (MTR) Delta in the export of organic matter from different sources to Mobile Bay, we will distinguish terrestrial/freshwater from marine sources to the system by measuring organic carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) stable isotope ratios in suspended and sediment particulate matter and biota. To define long-term spatial and seasonal patterns in organic matter flow through the MTR-fed estuary system relative to variation in discharge and salinity, we will compare stable isotope values through time in a historical data set (2008-present). Based on a previous study, we expect to find important trophic links between inland and near shore open water ecosystems. Freshwater discharge is expected to have short-term effects on trophic structure and movements of estuarine species. From this study, we can apply the variability of organic matter distribution down bay relative to seasonal river discharge to predict future responses of the system to changes in seasonal precipitation and sea level rise that may accompany long-term climate variation.
Presenters
AY
Akela Yuhl
University Of South Alabama, Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Co-Authors
CA
Christopher Anderson
Auburn University College Of Forestry, Wildlife And Environment
LK
Latif Kalin
RC
Ruth Carmichael
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Generation of DNA Barcode Data for Callichirus islagrande, a Beach Ghost Shrimp, and Generation of Blocker Primers for Fecal DNA Metabarcoding. 20
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Callichirus islagrande, the beach ghost shrimp, is a burrowing shrimp endemic to the northern Gulf of Mexico where it is among the most abundant macroorganisms in shallow sand beach habitats. Callichirusislagrande is a common prey item of stingray, Florida pompano, Gulf whiting, and Gulf sturgeon. Although C. islagrande are known filter feeders and eject large amounts of fecal pellets from their burrows, which likely alter the nutrient and trophic dynamics of the nearshore environment, it is unclear if they are generalist, feeding on everything suspended in the water column or if they selectively target certain food items. In this study, we aim to analyze the diet of C. islagrande using fecal DNA metabarcoding. Before beginning metabarcoding analysis, we amplified and sequenced 3 loci (COI, 16S, and 18S) from C. islagrande and generated blocker primers to prevent amplification of C. islagrande DNA while conducting metabarcoding of fecal DNA and eDNA samples. DNA metabarcoding of 4 loci (CO1, 16S, 18S, and rbcL) will be conducted for both the fecal DNA and environmental DNA (eDNA) samples collected from the surrounding water and we will compare the community composition recovered from these analyses to determine how the community recovered from fecal DNA analyses compares to that recovered from the eDNA analyses. Here we present the results of these efforts and provide additional insights into the diet and feeding ecology of C. islagrande.


Presenters
KL
Kambrial Love
Jackson State University
Co-Authors
BT
Brent Thoma
Jackson State University, Department Of Biology, Center For Marine And Environmental Genomics
Differences in Responses to Thermal Stress between Predator and Prey: Crassostrea virginica (Eastern Oyster and Stramonita Haemastroma Floridana (Southern Oyster Drill) 21
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
The southern oyster drill is a common gastropod in the Gulf of Mexico. They are an ecologically and economically important pest of oyster aquaculture in the warm waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico, but little is known about southern oyster drill physiology and thermal tolerance. Thermal tolerances have previously been related to predator/prey feeding habits in drills. A higher thermal tolerance of drills could allow them to take advantage of oysters undergoing thermal stress, making them easier prey than at non-stressful temperatures. However, the upper thermal limits of the southern oyster drill in the Gulf of Mexico have not been well studied. To gain insight into potential differences between predator and prey, we used a combination of optical respirometry, behavioral, and lethal assays to test for differences in responses to thermal stress between drills and the eastern oyster. Drills expressed a bimodal curve in metabolic response to acute thermal stress, displaying an adaptive temperature-insensitive metabolism commonly seen in intertidal animals. Oysters, on the other hand, exhibited a unimodal response to acute thermal stress. Drills displayed sublethal behavioral signs of thermal stress approximately 5˚C before oysters expressed sublethal behaviors. Drills also reached their thermal critical maximum (CTmax) approximately 5˚C before oysters did. Because of the lower tolerance to acute thermal stress, drills are likely not taking advantage of stressed oysters. Rather, it is possible that high temperatures may provide a thermal refuge to oysters from the southern oyster drill.
Presenters
KB
Kayla Boyd
Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory
Co-Authors
SR
Scott Rikard
Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory
JS
Jim Stoeckel
Auburn University, College Of Agriculture
Generation of DNA Barcodes for the Atlantic Mole Crab, Emerita talpoida, and the Development of Blocker Primers for Fecal DNA Metabarcoding Analysis 22
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
The Atlantic mole crab, Emerita talpoida, is a common component of the sandy beach community from Massachusetts to Mexico where it commonly inhabits the swash zone. It is a common prey item for shorebirds and several sportfish (e.g., Gulf and Atlantic Whiting and Florida Pompano) and is harvested for human consumption in some communities making its biology, especially its diet, of particularly concern due to the potential for biomagnification along trophic levels. While it is well known that E. talpoida, like its congeners, is a filter feeder, to what extent it may be a selective filter feeder is largely unknown. We aim to examine the diet of E. talpoida using fecal DNA metabarcoding of 4 loci (16S, 18S, COI, and rbcL) and compare the composition of the fecal DNA community to that of the surrounding water to determine if individuals are filtering all particles from the water or are selectively ingesting certain particles (e.g., bacteria, phytoplankton, detritus, etc). Before metabarcoding reactions could be undertaken, we began by generating DNA barcode data for E. talpoida for COI and 16S and used these data to develop blocker primers to prevent the amplification of host DNA in metabarcoding reactions. Following metabarcoding communities recovered from both fecal DNA and surrounding water will be compared to determine if E. talpoida is a generalist or selective filter feeder. Given its importance in numerous food webs and as an occasional human foodstuff, understanding the diet of E. talpoida is critical to prevent biomagnification of marine pollutants.
Presenters Dwan Jackson
Jackson State University
Co-Authors
BT
Brent Thoma
Jackson State University, Department Of Biology, Center For Marine And Environmental Genomics
Gaping Behavior in Triploid and Diploid Eastern Oysters Before and After Desiccation 23
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
The Eastern Oyster, Crassostrea Virginica, is a valuable product of off-bottom aquaculture farms in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Differences in mortality between diploid and triploid oysters have been documented in off-bottom farms, but the drivers behind these differences are not fully understood. Gaping behavior in oysters is important in that it determines the amount of time an individual is open and actively obtaining oxygen and food. Oysters are regularly subject to desiccation treatments in aquaculture for the purpose of controlling and limiting biofouling. During desiccation treatments typically lasting 12-24 hrs, oysters remain tightly closed, but must periodically open after re-immersion to resume aerobic respiration and feeding.
To investigate gaping behavior before and after desiccation, we used a commercially available Aquadect Mosselmonitor ® to monitor and record percent gape of individual oysters every 60 seconds. For each trial, four diploid and four triploid oysters from half-sib groups were glued into the Mosselmonitor which was then placed into a mesocosm containing filtered saltwater at ~16 ppt salinity, and 26.6 ℃. Oysters were fed LPB shellfish diet and allowed to acclimate to the system for 7 days. The MosselMonitor was then raised from the water for 24 hrs to simulate a desiccation treatment, and then returned to the water for an additional 48 hours. Experiments are still ongoing. Preliminary analysis indicates that both diploids and triploids close less frequently in the 24 hrs following desiccation, compared to pre-desiccation behavior, but triploids show more individual variation than diploids.


Presenters
WK
William Kleist
Auburn University
Gulf Coast Dune Mycorrhizae Improve Salinity Tolerance of a Common Coastal Dune Grass 24
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are root-inhabiting fungi that form symbiotic associations with most land plants and can aid in survival, growth, and stress tolerance of colonized plants. Plants growing in coastal dune ecosystems face constant environmental stress from high temperatures, low moisture and nutrient retention, and frequent saltwater inundation. Frequency of inundation in coastal dunes is predicted to increase as sea levels rise and tropical storm frequency, intensity, and duration increases. To determine whether Gulf Coast AMF improve inundation tolerance of Panicum amarum, a common coastal dune grass, we grew P. amarum with and without native AMF under control conditions of watering once a week with freshwater, freshwater inundation (watering three times a week), and across a gradient of saltwater inundation concentrations: 0.25%, 0.50%, 1.00%, and 1.50%. Under 0.25% salinity inundation, P. amarum grown with native AMF had 46.6% greater survival; however, we found no significant differences in biomass of P. amarum between live and sterile soil treatments, suggesting AMF promote salinity tolerance for P. amarum. As salinity concentrations increase to 0.50%, 1.00%, and 1.50%, AMF offer no benefits to P. amarum, as salinity is still toxic to plants at higher concentrations. Surprisingly, under control conditions, plants grown with native AMF had 46.6% lower survival and 3´ greater biomass than those without native AMF communities. In conclusion, Gulf Coast dune AMF improve salinity tolerance of Panicum amarum at low levels of 0.25% salinity concentrations, however under normal conditions AMF may be a significant resource sink for P. amarum seedlings.
Presenters
EN
Emily Newman
University Of South Alabama
Co-Authors
JR
Joshlyn Rowland
University Of South Alabama
TH
Thelma Hammer
University Of South Alabama
JH
Jeremiah Henning
University Of South Alabama
Comparing the Impact of Curricular and Extracurricular Environmental Education Programs on the Environmental Literacy of High School Students 25
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Environmental education programs aim to enable participants to become environmentally literate citizens with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to solve environmental problems. This project will compare the impact of curricular, or in-school, environmental education programs with extracurricular programs led by the Mississippi State University Coastal and Marine Extension Program to determine which program format and timeline contributes to greater changes in participants' knowledge, skills, and attitudes about coastal environments and sustainability. The Green and Resilient Infrastructure Technical Skills (GRITS) program is an extracurricular program available to high school juniors and seniors each semester focusing on the development of job skills such as drone piloting, geographic information systems, and data analysis that are highly valuable in STEM career fields. Plan-it Marsh and Plan-it Dunes are in-school programs facilitated by classroom teachers, in which students discern best practices for raising and propagating marsh and dune plants to restore shorelines. High school participants' mindsets and knowledge will be evaluated before and immediately after participation in these programs to determine if participation increases environmental literacy. Participants will also be asked about their intentions to pursue careers and post-secondary education in STEM fields, particularly jobs and programs that focus on environmental topics to further assess changes in their mindsets with a focus on career readiness.
Presenters
JH
Jessie Howington
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Plastic Potential Degradation and Fragmentation Through a Sequence of Terrestrial and Aquatic Environments 26
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Plastics are a diverse group of relatively inert polymer-based materials which contribute to the ever-increasing problem of marine litter and microplastic formation. Litter often originates from terrestrial sources and may experience different environments as it is transported to its eventual destination in marine environments. In this ongoing study, small specimens of three types of common plastics (high-density polyethylene, nylon, and polylactic acid) were fastened to large boards and exposed to different in-situ environments in coastal Mississippi, simulating various pathways (e.g., terrestrial to freshwater, terrestrial to saltwater, immediate freshwater, immediate saltwater) that litter might be subjected to as it transitions to marine waters. Total deployment durations in each environment were six months, with a maximum duration of twelve months for specimens undergoing a sequence of two environments. Subsamples of specimens were collected periodically to assess changes (e.g., mass, tensile strength, elasticity) to predict shifts in potential for fragmentation into microplastics. Collected specimens will also undergo an abrasion and impact simulation to demonstrate fragmentation potential from similar mechanical disturbances. Results from this ongoing study will reveal temporal and spatial insights into plastic fragmentation through typical pathways of marine debris transport from land to marine environments. This information will aid in improving future targeted cleanup efforts designed to prevent microplastic generation in coastal environments.
Presenters
AV
Anthony Vedral
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Protecting the 5 Most Critical Wetland Areas in the Lowest Galveston Bay Watershed through Mapping and Community Engagement 27
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Bayou City Waterkeeper (BCWK) is a nonprofit organization based in Houston, Texas that aims to foster just climate transitions throughout the Lower Galveston Bay Watershed (LGBW). BCWK understands that the collective vision for flood protection must shift towards one that protects our region more holistically by advocating for the protection of our coastal prairie wetlands as flood defense. To empower communities to conserve wetlands, thereby reducing flood risk and protecting water quality, BCWK developed tools to strengthen advocacy in LGBW. BCWK believes the region's community members are the experts who continue to protect our watershed, their surrounding wetlands and their community from future extreme weather-related flood events and rising climate risk. 
BCWK's story map of our 5 Most Critical Wetlands along with a wetland mapping app aim to create a sense of urgency and hope and give community members the information and tools they need to protect their region. The story map describes five pristine tracts of wetlands in LGBW that are under threat of development and explains the need to conserve large tracts of land to maintain their ecological function. The wetland mapping app allows stakeholders and community members an easy-to-use interface to engage with data and identify flood risk and wetland losses in their community and subwatershed. This presentation will describe how BCWK is using GIS tools to strengthen its legal advocacy and share with the community the importance of wetlands and the promise of nature-based solutions as a key tool for coastal resilience.
Presenters
CS
Carrie Smith
Bayou City Waterkeeper
MA
Mashal Awais
Bayou City Waterkeeper
UG
Uilvim Ettore Gardin Franco
Rice University
Preliminary Winter Bird Community Data for Tracking Pine Savanna Restoration in the Mississippi Gulf Coast 28
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
North American grassland bird populations have declined, due in part to the loss of suitable winter habitats, including the longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) savanna ecosystem, across the Southeastern United States. Longleaf pine savanna coverage has vastly declined across the Southeast region of the United States from approximately 23 million hectares prior to European colonization to less than 1.2 million hectares in most recent years. This loss of habitat is thought to be due to habitat conversion, but perhaps most importantly, lack of fire which has recently caused a focus shift in the southeast to the application of fire. Several bird species of conservation concern are found during the winter in longleaf pine savanna ecosystems along the Gulf of Mexico coast, namely, Sedge Wren (Cistothorus stellaris), Henslow's Sparrows (Ammodramus henslowii), and Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna). Our objectives in this study are to (1) document changes in bird communities associated with habitat management activities (i.e., mechanical clearing, prescribed fire, etc.) and (2) determine the presence/absence and density of winter grassland birds, with a primary focus on Henslow's Sparrows, in relation to pine savanna restoration efforts. Our results will be used to provide data-driven management decisions to effectively manage for and conserve this important ecosystem. Ongoing avian surveys have indicated that most of the restoration areas are dominated by bird species that are characteristic of shrub and forest communities, while few areas were dominated by grassland characteristic bird species presumably due to the lack of areas on a 1–3-year fire rotation.


Presenters
SC
Sofia Campuzano
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Co-Authors
MW
Mark Woodrey
Mississippi State Universtiy
AH
Andrew Heaton
Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
JP
Jonathan Pitchford
Grand Bay NERR
RI
Ray B. Iglay
Mississippi State University
Per- And Poly- Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Body Burden and Exposure-Induced Stress Responses of Eastern Oysters in the Mobile Bay Region 29
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are ubiquitous in many ecosystems. Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) are prominent ecological, economic, and cultural drivers in the Gulf of Mexico-including the Mobile Bay region (MBR). Previous studies have revealed multiple PFAS compounds in and around the MBR. We tested for multiple PFAS compounds (PFPeA, PFHxA, PFOA, PFOS, and PFBS) in wild and farmed oysters, water, and sediments from the MBR via ultra-high performance liquid chromatography, triple quadrupole mass spectrometer (UHPLC-MS/MS). Results showed combined concentrations of 5.4 ng L-1 in water and 0.7 ng g-1 dry wt in sediments. Concentrations of all five PFAS compounds in wild and off-bottom farmed oysters were below detection limits, although there were indications of low PFOA concentrations in all oysters. We conducted lab-based PFAS exposure studies to induce stress responses in C. virginica over 33 days. Hemolymph, total hemocyte counts, and phagocytic capacities were assessed. No differences were found concerning exposure time (P=0.171) or treatment (control vs. exposed; P=0.148) across the study period. Although exposure time impacted the phagocytic rate of oysters overall (P=0.049), exposure to PFAS did not influence the phagocytic rate compared to control oysters for the duration of this study (P=0.667). We are currently investigating stress-related enzyme activity of exposed oysters (i.e., catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase). Findings will assist in defining potential risks associated with MBR PFAS exposure, informing decisions in aquaculture management and farming practices, and guiding oyster reef restoration efforts in the area.


Presenters
AA
Ayesha Alam
Auburn University, School Of Fisheries Aquaculture And Aquatic Sciences
Co-Authors
TB
Timothy Bruce
Auburn University, College Of Agriculture
JH
Joel Hayworth
Auburn University
VM
Vanisree Mulabagal
Auburn University
Incorporating in Situ Wave Energy Measurements into a Living Shoreline Suitability Model 30
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Natural shorelines are essential to maintaining a healthy ecosystem, but erosion accelerated by anthropogenic stressors greatly decreases the sustainability of some natural shorelines. Living shorelines are an alternative to shoreline hardening that protect and restore natural shorelines. However, many property owners and project designers do not know how to determine the best living shoreline solution for their location. To address this issue, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science created a living shoreline suitability model (LSSM) to inform living shoreline design recommendations in specific locations. This model has been applied to many waterbodies throughout the US, including the northern Gulf of Mexico, and uses data inputs such as fetch, land use, and bathymetry to categorize the shoreline. The LSSM uses fetch to calculate wave energy and classify the shorelines as "low, medium, or high" energy. However, many restricted waterways (e.g., narrow channels and rivers) have small fetch but high boat traffic, which has the potential to lead to under designed shoreline recommendations from the LSSM. To improve the recommendations produced by the model in restricted waterways, we will collect wave energy data using low-cost wave gauges throughout Biloxi Bay over several months and incorporate this data into the LSSM. Differences in shoreline management recommendations between the fetch-based LSSM and in situ wave energy measurement-based LSSM will be quantified and analyzed. This data will be used to create a more accurate representation of the shoreline and improve living shoreline recommendations.
Presenters
AD
Ashleigh Dunaway
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Co-Authors
VM
Vitor Martins
Mississippi State University
ES
Eric Sparks
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Effects of Structural Design on Oyster Survival in Artificial Reefs 31
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Eastern oysters are well known ecosystem engineers responsible for water filtration, providing habitat and refuge for numerous species, and other ecosystem services. However, natural oyster reefs are declining due to several natural and anthropogenic threats. To mitigate for the loss of natural oyster reefs, many reef restoration projects have been completed and several more are being planned. It is known that variation in reef height, interstitial space, and slope can encourage oyster settlement, but little is known about how reefs can be designed to exclude predation of oysters by oyster drills, fish, crabs, and other predators. In this study, we seek to quantify the effectiveness of varying oyster reef designs at excluding predation. Sixteen replicates each of eight different reef designs varying in height, slope, and vertical spacing have been created from Portland cement and seeded with oysters from Auburn Shellfish Lab. These reefs have been deployed in Bayou La Batre, AL in a block design with two replicates of each reef design deployed in a single block. One of these replicates is in an exclusion cage to limit predation while the other is not. Monthly photographs to determine oyster growth and survival in addition to predator counts will be collected and analyzed. Results from this study can be used to inform the design of oyster reef restoration projects.
Presenters
JA
Jaden Akers
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Co-Authors
AD
Ashleigh Dunaway
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
CL
Cynthia Lupton
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
PB
Patrick Broussard
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
JC
Just Cebrian
Northern Gulf Institute
NT
Nigel Temple
WSP
ES
Eric Sparks
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
The Forgotten Forest: Habitat Assessment of Eroded Forest, Marsh, and Beach Shorelines 32
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Variations in shoreline type can be dramatic and produce a mosaic of habitat types within estuaries along the Gulf of Mexico. Research to date has shown that shorelines vegetated with marsh plants are typically associated with higher abundance and diversity of fauna; however, one increasingly common shoreline type that is understudied are eroded forested edges. Forested shorelines are common but have increased in prevalence due to erosion induced by boat wakes, sea level rise, development, and other factors leading to most forested shorelines in estuaries being eroded and characterized by a steep eroded bank intermixed with roots. To better understand the habitat benefits of eroded forest shorelines in comparison to gradually sloped beach and marsh shorelines, we are conducting a study within East Bay (Panama City, FL). The study consists of 10 replicates of each shoreline type that each contain a continuous 100m stretch of shoreline. Each month a combination of seining, gill netting, and benthic trays are used to quantify both the nekton and benthic communities. Results from this project can be used to better understand the tradeoffs associated with different shoreline habitat types and provide guidance for restoration efforts and management practices.
Presenters
CL
Cynthia Lupton
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Co-Authors
ES
Eric Sparks
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Advanced Microbial Source Tracking for Source-Specific Management of Water Quality 33
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
The urbanization of coastal areas allows for the introduction of contaminants from various terrestrial sources into aquatic systems. Pathogens can be conveyed to waterways from both human (e.g., wastewater treatment plants, septic systems) and non-human (e.g., livestock, wildlife, domesticated pets) sources. Pollution loads and sources vary within coastal areas, and differing levels can pose human health risks through contaminated swimming waters and consumption of contaminated fisheries. 
Water quality degradation, therefore, poses a significant threat to human health, coastal resources, and coastal economies on the Mississippi-Alabama coast. Microbial sources to Alabama waters are largely undefined, and a better understanding of these sources can inform system-scale management to improve community and ecosystem health. 
The proposed study will identify and quantify potential fecal sources from subwatersheds along the Alabama coast via microbial source tracking that will align traditional microbial indicators with environmental DNA (eDNA) and quantitative PCR (qPCR); advanced molecular technologies that can identify human and non-human sources of contamination to aquatic systems. This study will target different groups of Bacteroidales bacteria for source identification (due to their high host specificity), and incorporate metagenetic eDNA analyses in tandem to provide valuable ecological context to specific field sites and refine geographic locations of contamination sources for management. Monthly sample collection will occur at each of 13 sites identified to be key potential entry points of contamination to Alabama's coastal waters. Data will immediately support shellfish aquaculture and seafood safety, safe swimming areas, tourism, and ecosystem health across state borders. 
Presenters
PD
Penny Demetriades
University Of South Alabama/Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Co-Authors
AB
Ania Brown
Dauphin Island Sea Lab/University Of South Alabama
DB
Dakota Bilbrey
University Of South Alabama/Dauphin Island Sea Lab
RC
Ruth Carmichael
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
SN
Sinead Ni Chadhain
University Of South Alabama
BK
Brandi Kiel Reese
Dauphin Island Sea Lab/University Of South Alabama
Development of Automated, In-situ, Aquatic Environmental DNA Sampler 34
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
The use of environmental DNA (eDNA) is increasingly transforming the way we monitor biodiversity in marine ecosystems. Despite the growing utility of eDNA in expanding our understanding of marine systems, the ability to capture eDNA samples across a time series, particularly from remote locations, remains problematic. Thus, the development of an automated device - that is fully submersible and field deployable - capable of capturing and preserving large numbers of aquatic eDNA samples would better allow for long-term monitoring of critical marine habitats. 
We are developing a fully submersible, in situ, automated aquatic eDNA sampler and deploying the sampler in a series of real-world applications to demonstrate its utility. Initial designs include a sampler capable of at least 30 days of submerged operation that has the ability to collect and preserve up to 100 individual eDNA samples. Samples will be collected at designated time intervals programmed prior to deployment.
By using off-the-shelf components, we aim to keep costs as low as possible thus making the sampler available to researchers and resource managers. A peristaltic pump will be used to push water through an enclosed Sterivex filter to capture eDNA samples. The sampler will then flush the remaining water from the filter with a DNA preservative to prevent sample degradation. Prior to the collection of the next sample, the sampler will use X-Y-Z actuators to move to a discharge port allowing the system to be purged before moving to a new filter and collecting an additional sample. 
Presenters
KA
Kamal Ali
Jackson State University
Rapid Changes in Tropical Cyclone Intensities over the Coastal Oceans: A Global Perspective 35
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Landfalling storms possess a high risk to the growing coastal population and the global economy. Prior studies indicate that the rapid intensification of landfalling storms could increase substantially in the coming years, especially in the Gulf of Mexico. Therefore, accurate predictions of the strength of TCs prior to landfall are extremely important. While tropical cyclones (TCs) are primarily driven by the physical processes in the atmosphere and open ocean, additional processes need to be considered as the TCs enter the continental shelves. The geographical barriers associated with coastal lines as well as the underlying shelf hydrographic conditions may contribute to the significant changes in TC intensity. In this study, we investigate statistical relationships associated with the rapid intensification and weakening of landfalling storms globally to better understand potential processes linked to changes in storm strength. Due to the importance of sea surface temperature, we hypothesize that the rapid changes (within 72 hours prior to the transit) in the thermal structure along the continental shelf, either warming or cooling will be directly linked to changes in TC intensity. We explore such relationships using a variety of datasets including satellite and in situ observations to examine the surface thermal conditions over the continental shelves prior to the storm transit.
Presenters
DM
Devanarayana Rao Mohan Rao
University Of South Alabama, Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Co-Authors
BD
Brian Dzwonkowski
University Of South Alabama, Dauphin Island Sea Lab
SF
Severine Fournier
NASA
G.R.I.T.S: Fostering Green and Resilient Infrastructure Technical Skills in High School Aged Youth 36
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Communities across coastal Mississippi are dependent on healthy natural resources to provide the ecosystem functions and services necessary for community resilience. Local youth are often interested in the environment; however, STEM careers involving habitat restoration and green infrastructure require a broad, yet technical skill set that is rarely introduced to high school. Lack of skills training, acts as a barrier to entry in STEM fields and reduces the capacity of the local STEM workforce. The GRITS (Green and Resilient Infrastructure Technical Skills) program was formed to address this issue through creating and implementing a comprehensive curriculum for STEM workforce development for high school students in coastal Mississippi. GRITS will provide hands-on training on six STEM skill groups vital to coastal habitat restoration and green infrastructure focused careers. The skills acquired through the program are directly applicable to various coastal STEM careers and include watercraft operation and certification; unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operation and certification; navigation and mapping; basic electrical systems, sensor construction, and coding; nursery methods and planting techniques for coastal vegetation; and data analysis, interpretation, project design, and permitting. Additionally, students will receive certifications (i.e. watercraft and UAS) for completion of applicable courses. This training will significantly enhance their marketability and likelihood of employment in coastal STEM careers.
Presenters
AK
Allie Koehn
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Plan-It Dunes: Fostering Dune Restoration and Conservation in Mississippi High Schools 37
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Dune systems provide important ecological and economic benefits to the coastal communities they inhabit, such as mitigating storm impacts and providing aesthetic values. Along the US Gulf Coast, the need for dune restoration projects has become imperative as increased development, poor beach management, and other factors have led to the degradation of dune habitats. The Plan-It Dunes program is an expansion of the Plan-it Marsh program and allows high school students the opportunity to gain an understanding and appreciation of dune systems while participating in hands-on field work to restore these habitats across their own communities. To achieve these goals, a curriculum will be created to pair with in-school educational training that develop skills in installation of green infrastructure through propagation and planting of native dune plants. Students will then have an opportunity to plant their plants at a restoration site as part of a project sponsored field trip. Additionally, students and educators will work with the project team to develop and install educational displays at restoration sites. The development and implementation of this program will lead to enhanced knowledge and stewardship of the coastal environment.
Presenters
NS
Nora Skinner
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Co-Authors
ES
Eric Sparks
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Effect of Training Level and Demographics on Quality of Citizen Science Collected Litter Data 38
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Citizen, community, or backyard science (hereinafter referred to as citizen science) has evolved from just a means to connect local communities to scientific research, to be actively used in a wide range of research efforts. There are many benefits to citizen science, but several perceived limitations. One limitation is citizen science data is often viewed as inferior or unusable by the broader science community. This stigma associated with citizen science data can often be attributed to a lack of data validation by trained professionals across user groups. Some of the main hindrances to the usability of citizen science data is the inherently different levels of background knowledge paired with training levels across participants. To increase the usability of data collected by citizen scientists, validity and confidence in the data must be established within the scientific community. To accomplish this usability, this study will evaluate the accuracy of two different marine debris data collection protocols by citizen scientists and the influence of individual characteristics, such as age, gender, educational background, socioeconomic status, and training level on the reliability and accuracy of collected data.
Presenters
JJ
Jessi James
Mississippi Inland Cleanup Program
Identifying Fecal Contamination Sources in the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve 39
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
The Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GNDNERR) has chronically elevated fecal coliforms counts; however, the source of the contamination is unknown. Due to the poor understanding of the local fecal pollution sources, this area has not been opened to shellfish harvesting since 2007. According to past sanitary surveys, there has been a history of malfunctioning residential septic systems and inadequate wastewater treatment in the upper watershed. Feral hogs and birds are also abundant in the estuary and could be a potential contributor to elevated fecal coliform levels in this area. The GNDNERR is located on the northern Gulf of Mexico coastline which is known to receive some of the highest annual precipitation totals in the United States. The intense rainfall can lead to a large fecal load from upland sources into the estuary. To better understand the temporal and spatial variation of fecal coliforms in the GNDNERR and inform oyster reef management, monthly sampling will take place over the course of a year at six sites within the main watershed of the GNDNERR and two sites upstream in the bayous. Having the two sites upstream will allow for a better understanding of how rainfall affects fecal contamination throughout the estuary. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) will be used for microbial source tracking to identify levels of potential fecal sources from humans, feral hogs, and birds have within the estuary as well as the concentrations of enterococcus, a fecal indicator bacteria.  
Presenters
AF
Amanda Free
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Co-Authors
KC
Kim Cressman
Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
PL
Philip Lee
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gulf Of Mexico Program
Evaluating the Efficacy of Recycled Glass Sand as a Soil Substrate for Gulf Coast Marsh and Dune Plants in Restoration Projects 40
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Sea level rise and erosion are driving shoreline changes along the Gulf Coast, threatening coastal habitats and populations that rely upon them. To mitigate these impacts, a wide range of coastal restoration projects have been implemented, with many of them including sand fill to help combat sea level rise and serve as structural habitat for replenishing plant and wildlife. However, sand is becoming increasingly expensive and is often difficult to source and transport. A proposed method to help increase the accessibility and cost-effectiveness of sand fill is by using recycled glass that is crushed into sand-sized particles as a source material. This solution can simultaneously eliminate landfill waste and provide locally-sourced fill material for coastal restoration projects. 
Ecological testing is still needed to confirm the efficacy of using recycled glass sand instead of traditional quartz sand. Therefore, I plan to conduct mesocosm experiments to evaluate the ability of black needlerush (Juncus roemerianus), a dominant marsh grass along the northeastern Gulf Coast, and sea oats (Uniola paniculata), a common dune plant, to grow in recycled glass sand. I will compare plant biomass, growth rates, and root characteristics among different sand treatments (glass, mixture, natural) to assess the tradeoffs of glass sand use in marsh and dune restoration projects. Completion of this research could help inform the design of future coastal restoration projects and support more cost-effective and sustainable restoration efforts along the Gulf Coast.
Presenters
AL
Ansley Levine
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Co-Authors
ES
Eric Sparks
Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center
Lillian Park Beach Habitat and Shoreline Protection Project 43
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
The Lillian Park Beach Habitat Shoreline Protection Project in Baldwin County, AL combines community function with coastal protection. The project provides a holistic approach to lessen existing conditions and coastal processes that have real and ongoing negative considerations to degradation of the immediate shoreline and littoral habitat, public safety and public access to the natural resource. 
The Lillian Park Beach and Boat Launch were constructed to facilitate greater public access to and enjoyment of the natural resources of the Perdido watershed and the Gulf of Mexico. The sand beach shoreline and coastal habitat are a preferred feature for recreation use. Erosion of bay shoreline, loss/degradation nearshore and littoral habitat is occurring at and adjacent to this location. Additionally, sedimentation is occurring in the boat ramp, hindering water access. 
Construction of a rock groin breakwater structure south of the existing boat launch will address ongoing sediment transport trends currently acting at the site, improving boat access and protection from high-energy waves, minimize the overall operations and maintenance of the park facility due to sand deposition in unwanted areas such as the boat ramp, and provide suitable public access for boats, fisherman, and enthusiasts to the natural resource. Additionally, construction of a sand pocket beach north of the existing boat launch will create a stable sand shoreline and effectively minimize beach erosion and habitat loss along Perdido Bay.
Presenters
GL
Glenn Ledet
Neel-Schaffer, Inc.
Eyes on Seagrass for Pensacola Bay 44
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
In lower Pensacola Bay, Big Lagoon and Santa Rosa Sound once had large meadows of seagrass that supported bay scallops among other species. These areas have seen declines since the 1960s however, recent studies show that there has been a 13% increase in seagrass coverage between 2010 and 2015.
Since 2017 the University of West Florida (UWF), Escambia and Santa Rosa County Sea Grant Extension Program have worked together to enlist citizens and UWF students to monitor seagrass beds. Each month during the growing season (April-September), local citizens identify seagrass species and use quadrats to estimate coverage of seagrass and macroalgae at different locations in the Pensacola Bay system. They also collect water samples which are analyzed by students at UWF by students who measure salinity and total suspended solids. Students also measure water quality and collect water samples for dissolved nutrients and chlorophyll a from these locations two-three times during the growing season. The goals of this program are to develop an active community of citizen scientists, train students, develop long term monitoring of seagrass habitats in the Pensacola Bay system, and to use this data to increase our understanding of factors impacting seagrass in the rapidly growing region.
In 2022 the project trained nine volunteers and expanded to locations in Choctawhatchee Bay. This presentation will provide updates for the 2022 season as well as some of the issues working with citizen volunteers.


Presenters
RO
Rick O'Connor
Florida Sea Grant & UF IFAS Extension
Pilot Project for Multi-species Farming in Coastal Alabama Waters: Initial Developments and Early Engagement Activities 45
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
The US imports roughly 90% of its seafood, which has led aquaculture to become one of the fastest growing sectors of food production. Locally, the expansion of oyster aquaculture along the entire Gulf Coast is evidence of this growth. Currently, there is an effort to continue development of this industry through a partnership among Dauphin Island Sea Lab, University of Southern Mississippi, University of New Hampshire, Gulf States Marine Commission, and NOAA. This innovative approach to produce seafood while minimizing environmental impacts includes growing oysters, macroalgae, and finfish in small-scale cages in Gulf coastal waters. The final, proposed location of the project was selected through a process that includes a NOAA-led site feasibility analysis, a Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium-facilitated engagement process with fishermen, resource managers, researchers and others as well as a USM-led bathymetric survey. Soon, the team will be moving the project through the permitting process. Once completed, the pilot project will begin research on-site and in the lab and will include training fishermen as participants in the project. The exchange of knowledge among researchers, resource managers, and resource users (e.g. fishing/farming industry, tourism industry) will be fostered throughout the project, which will build capacity for larger scale seafood production in the future. This poster highlights key aspects of the project including public engagement and outreach, spatial planning and site selection, equipment for offshore farming, candidate species research, and science and technology.
Presenters
SS
Steve Sempier
Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium
Co-Authors
KR
Kenneth Riley
National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration, National Centers For Coastal Ocean Science
RB
Reginald Blaylock
University Of Southern Mississippi
ER
Egan Rowe
University Of Southern Mississippi, Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center
JV
John Valentine
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
MG
Megan Gima
University Of Southern Mississippi, Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center
AA
Angelos Apeitos
University Of Southern Mississippi, Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center
Impacts of Disturbance and Resource Availability on Coastal Dune Ecosystems 46
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Globally, coastal ecosystems are threatened by the intensifying effects of global change and increasing disturbance through human activity. Although a global issue, these effects are being felt especially hard along the Alabama Gulf Coast where storm intensity and frequency, sea-levels, and the number of tourists continue to increase year after year. Storm events and human-mediated disturbance of coastal plant communities increase coastal erosion, impacting dozens of critically threatened or endangered organisms. To understand recovery of coastal dune ecosystems following disturbance and to quantify assembly dynamics through time, we established a mechanical disturbance × resource availability experiment on the west end of Dauphin Island, AL. In Spring 2020, we established 20 5×5m plots that were randomly selected to receive disturbance with a rototiller, application of 10g nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, rototilling plus nutrient addition, or to serve as a control. Overall, disturbance and resource availability are reducing plant diversity within coastal dune ecosystems. The impact of disturbance is cascading to reduce the diversity and abundance of dune insect communities, soil fungal activity, and is altering the activity of ghost crabs residing within our plots. Nutrient addition is having negligible impacts on plant, insect, and ghost crabs residing within our plots within the first two years of treatment. Over the next decade, our experiment will quantify the impacts of disturbance on coastal dune plant communities and will measure the changes in ecosystem function and trophic cascades.
Presenters
JH
Jeremiah Henning
University Of South Alabama
Co-Authors
EN
Emily Newman
University Of South Alabama
KB
Kayla Beitzel
University Of South Alabama
TC
Taylor Clay
University Of South Alabama
TH
Thelma Hammer
University Of South Alabama
CT
Chelsea Thornton
University Of South Alabama
Preliminary Study of Recruitment Patterns of Crassostrea virginica in the Mississippi Sound 47
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Little is known about the spawning and settlement patterns of Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) during seasonal time periods not considered "peak" seasons. There has been evidence from recent sampling efforts that would indicate some level of settlement and recruitment is occurring in the Mississippi Sound during the non-peak settlement season. In efforts to capture regional distribution of oyster spat settlement within the Mississippi Sound, specifically in near-shore waters, ceramic tile and clean oyster shell held in PVC coated wire cages were deployed at nine sites across the Mississippi Sound and monitored monthly. Each site was chosen to capture varying depths, currents, and salinity changes in the Sound and all show high historical spat recruitment numbers. Total spat counts and measurements were collected for each site every month starting January 2021. Preliminary data show continuous settlement period beginning in May and tapering off in September. The most prolific region is Biloxi Bay with double the amount of spat settlement than the western and eastern sides of the Sound. Results from this multiple year study can better identify and target oyster restoration efforts to more effectively take advantage of spat settlement and recruitment to cultch materials.   
Presenters
KG
Katherine Glover
Mississippi Department Of Marine Resources
Co-Authors
JR
Jason Rider
Mississippi Department Of Marine Resources
Results of the Remote Oyster Setting 2022 Medium Scale Production Season in the Mississippi Sound 48
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) is in Phase I of the RESTORE Council-funded Remote Oyster Setting Facility Project. Remote setting is the process of taking oyster larvae and placing it in a system where it is protected from predators. The larvae are given substrate to settle on, food, and beneficial water quality conditions to ensure optimum survival.  
The purpose of the Remote Oyster Setting Facility Project is to provide a process that will restore Mississippi's decimated oyster reefs at a faster rate than could be achieved in the wild. Not only will this benefit oyster reefs, but it will also aid the oyster industry and increase ecosystem services performed by the oyster reefs such as providing a nursery for other important fisheries species. During Phase I, planning activities assess the overall feasibility of the process. To better facilitate a successful future for the Remote Oyster Setting Project, MDMR was able to complete the second year of preliminary medium-scale tests in 2022.  
MDMR acquired 80 million eyed larvae from the University of Southern Mississippi, Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory and L3 Hatchery. These larvae were set on oyster shells using natural seawater from Gulfport Harbor. Over a five-month period, 12,294,086 spat-on-shell oysters were produced resulting in a larval setting efficiency of 14.37% over the course of six individual production cycles. The average size of the oysters planted was 3.75mm. 
Presenters
EC
Ellen Coffin
Mississippi Department Of Marine Resources
Co-Authors
KG
Katherine Glover
Mississippi Department Of Marine Resources
JR
Jason Rider
Mississippi Department Of Marine Resources
Avenues to Science: Internships at the Marine Education Center 50
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
The USM Marine Education Center is an environmental teaching facility located in a forested area adjacent to Davis Bayou in Ocean Springs, MS. Each year the center aids in facilitating internship opportunities focused on coastal processes in Mississippi and works with USM research and teaching faculty. This summer, three talented undergraduate students participated in internships tailored to their unique interests in science education. One internship focused on dendrology and recording the variety of native tree types found on the MEC property in an outdoor education context. This student was able to map tree populations on the grounds and begin the process of establishing an arboretum at the MEC. Another internship focused on Deer Island, one of Mississippi's nearshore island outcroppings commonly used in educational programming for K-12 and adult audiences. This student intern was able to prepare materials and interact with the education community, teaching about the island and its processes during a professional development workshop held each summer at the MEC. One additional internship worked closely with MEC education staff to explore science communication. This student did a review on an established teaching program offered with the MEC, and interviewed past students, instructors, and mentors in the teaching program. Overall, the students participating in the MEC summer internships gained valuable knowledge and experience in internships aligning with their scientific interests. The students were all recruited from Historically Black Colleges or Universities and were fully supported during their time in coastal Mississippi, learning to collect, analyze, and communicate science.
Presenters
LB
Laura Blackmon
University Of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast Research Lab's Marine Education Center
Manual and Chemical Removal of Invasive Apple Snails in Mobile, AL 51
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
The apple snail (P. maculata) is an invasive mollusc species from Asia that was introduced to the Threemile Creek watershed most likely by the aquarium trade. Apple snails exhibit high reproductive potential, growth rate, dietary flexibility, and resistance to several environmental conditions including hypoxia, high temperature and desiccation, making them a threat to native gastropods' as well as the environment. The goal of the project was to use environmentally low impact manual removal supplemented by molluscicide and herbicide applications to minimize the population and prevent spread into Mobile Bay.
Snails and egg sacs were removed using twice weekly collection at Municipal Lake by a field crew consisting of two to four field technicians using grabbers in kayaks and canoes from 2020 to 2022. For each collection and removal effort, data was recorded based on location and individual counts, allowing for a trend line to show a decrease in the population. Molluscicide and herbicide were applied throughout the watershed based on recommendations from the field crew. In 2022, efforts were expanded to the entire watershed.
This combination of manual and chemical methods was shown to be highly effective. Over the life of the project, the weekly average of both snails and eggs decreased significantly. Respectively, the yearly removed snail averages are as follows: 559 snails, 113 snails, and 33 snails. The removed egg sac averages are as follows: 2782 sacs, 570 sacs, 357 sacs. This targeted approach is efficient with little impact on the environment and native species. 
Presenters
JD
Jennifer Doan
Osprey Initiative
Co-Authors
SR
Susanna Robinson
Osprey Initiative
Sea Grant Offers Fellowship Opportunities for Grad Students 52
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium has several fellowship opportunities each year for graduate students who are looking for opportunities. This poster will focus on making graduate students, professors and agencies aware of these opportunities. The Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship places graduate students in Washington, D.C., to work with federal agencies or legislative offices on national marine policy decisions. The National Marine Fisheries Service-Sea Grant Joint Graduate Fellowship offers graduate students the opportunity to work with a mentor in two fields: population and ecosystem dynamics involving fish populations and marine ecosystems or marine resource economics. Finally, the NOAA Coastal Management Fellowship offers on-the-job training for two years with a state coastal resource agency.
Presenters
LL
Loretta Leist
Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium
Co-Authors
MS
Melissa Schneider
Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium
Trends of Karenia brevis Blooms in the Northcentral Gulf of Mexico 53
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Blooms of Karenia brevis occur naturally in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). These harmful algal blooms (HAB) events, known as "red tides", can have large impacts on coastal ecosystems and their sporadic occurrence is not completely understood. In this study we examined the spatial and temporal variability of Karenia brevis blooms in the northcentral GoM, based on the HAB observations available from the Harmful Algal BloomS Observing System (HABSOS). HABSOS, a database of HAB and associated environmental observations submitted by partner agencies and groups, is maintained by NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). The data we analyzed identified that blooms were consistently initiated in the fall/early winter season, which agrees with other research findings. Another trend that was illustrated by the data was that bloom events with a longer duration were found to migrate further westward, while shorter lived blooms often failed to reach the MS or even the AL coastlines. This challenge of westward bloom migration was supported by significantly lower observed K. brevis cell density values from both the AL and MS regions when compared to bloom values found in the northcentral GoM FL region. While further studies are needed to present a closer look at HAB trends in this region, our work has clearly demonstrated trends associated with potential HAB migration westward from FL.
Presenters
JJ
Jonathan Jackson
NOAA NCEI / MSU NGI
Co-Authors
YL
Yee Lau
Mississippi State University, Northern Gulf Institute
PM
Paul Mickle
Mississippi State University, Northern Gulf Institute
JC
Just Cebrian
Northern Gulf Institute
Does Sediment and Microplastic Type Affect the Adsorption of Heavy Metals in Marine Systems? 54
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Microplastics and heavy metals are both anthropogenic pollutants in marine environments. Much is known about the negative impacts of microplastics and heavy metals on the environment and organisms as well as microplastics acting as a vector for heavy metals adsorbed to their surface. However, few studies have assessed which media presents the greatest risk. The purpose of this project was to evaluate the effect of sediment and microplastic type on heavy metal adsorption. For a span of seven days, microplastics and microfibers were placed in bottles with purified water and three different sediments of varying grain size for a total of six treatments with replication. Heavy metals were extracted from the microplastics and analyzed using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroscopy. Based on these data, we have identified that microfibers in fine-grain organic rich sediment could pose the greatest hazard in terms of heavy metal adsorption. With these results, further research and data can be obtained on how microplastics and metals interact in the environment as well as their harmful effects on marine life. This information can also provide policy makers and stakeholders with the data needed to manage and reduce microplastic sources to estuaries and aquatic systems.
Presenters
AF
Allison Fletcher
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Dissolved Rhenium Reveals Freshwater Sources to Mississippi Sound 55
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
In the coastal zone, tracing sources of materials such as nutrients and contaminants can be complex due to various possible water sources including rivers/estuaries, offshore surface and upwelled waters, and submarine groundwater discharge (SGD). This is particularly true in the northern Gulf of Mexico. In this environment, various groups have found water stable isotopes (δ18O and δD/H) are often useful for distinguishing freshwaters with different latitudinal sources. For instance, Mississippi River mainstem and Atchafalaya River outflow are isotopically distinct. Radium and radon isotopes are often keys to identifying SGD inputs, but these can also have multiple sources. Sometimes a given system may have a unique marker, such as the anthropogenic dissolved cesium enrichment in St. Louis Bay discharge to Mississippi Sound. Here, we present new evidence showing that dissolved rhenium can be a useful Mississippi Sound water source tracer. Rhenium (Re) behaves conservatively in seawater and is found in low concentrations (~41 pM); only in reducing environments, such as sedimentary pore waters, is Re appreciably removed. Rivers generally have lower Re than seawater, but some rivers can be enriched in Re relative to seawater. This appears to be the case with the Mississippi River and may be the result of anthropogenic Re inputs. In the Mississippi Sound, the contrast between freshwater components derived from the Mississippi River and local rivers is clearly revealed due to their contrasting Re concentrations. Interestingly, some SGD samples appear to have an intermediate Re concentration, suggesting possible use of Re in multiple endmember mixing models.


Presenters
AM
Amy Moody
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gulf Of Mexico Division
Co-Authors
MG
Melissa Gilbert
USM Marine Science
AS
Alan Shiller
University Of Southern Mississippi
Early Recruitment Limitation Impedes the Recovery of the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) in Mississippi Sound 56
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
Climate-related shifts in rainfall patterns currently hamper oyster recruitment throughout western Mississippi Sound. Multiple stressors associated with excessive freshwater discharge include extremely low and sustained salinity, as well as hypoxia and toxic effects of harmful algal blooms. Successful oyster recruitment requires a proper supply of planktonic larvae, suitable substrate for post-larval settlement, and successful survival and growth of early post-settlement stages. Prior to 2019, large-scale reef restoration efforts focused on alleviating substrate limitation as a deterrent to oyster recruitment in Mississippi waters. Early oyster recruitment was evident in 2018. However, the primary deterrent to oyster recruitment shifted from substrate limitation to recruitment limitation in 2019, when oyster spawning stocks were completely decimated by unprecedented freshwater discharge from the Bonnet Carré spillway. Consequently, early oyster recruitment was effectively eliminated in 2019. In 2020, early oyster recruitment resumed at low and regionally variable levels. Sustained low salinity conditions returned in 2021 in response to an elevated regional rainfall regime throughout the oyster recruitment period. Early oyster recruitment was sparse and varied regionally, commensurate with salinity levels. Variation in growth and mortality of transplanted hatchery-reared juvenile oysters varied regionally and between years in conjunction with salinity. Since 2018, commercial oyster landings from western Mississippi Sound have ceased. The development of an innovative adaptive oyster management strategy is essential given current environmental challenges.


Presenters
CR
Chet Rakocinski
University Of Southern Mississippi
The Misunderstood Groin: Structure and Sand Movement in Living Shorelines 57
05:00 PM - 07:00 PM (America/Chicago) 2023/01/24 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/01/25 01:00:00 UTC
A groin, jetty, headland breakwater, and by any other name still holds sand. Public and private property owners struggle in estuarine settings to stabilize their shorelines in the face of sea level rise, tropical storm activity, increased coastal development pressure, and human use such as boat wakes. Development in estuarine areas of coastal Alabama is moving at a blistering pace. Private property owners are rapidly stabilizing their shorelines with revetments and bulkheads, destroying the valuable intertidal habitat necessary for flora, fauna, and human access. 
It is time to revisit the use of groins in coastal restoration and their ecological and cultural value in maintaining a sandy beach. This presentation will demonstrate the use of structure in stabilizing living shorelines in estuarine settings. We will highlight a shoreline restoration project that failed due to faulty regulatory construction guidelines. Conversely, we will demonstrate sandy shoreline restoration success using headland breakwaters and dredge sand. 
Presenters
LY
Lee Yokel
EcoSolutions, Inc.
TH
Tom Hutchings
EcoSolutions
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Saint Stanislaus Marine Department
St. Stanislaus Marine Science Department
University of South Alabama
Louisiana State University
University of Alabama
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