Collaborative Science for Estuaries Webinar Series

Chesapeake Bay Virginia - Photo credit: David Walters

Join us for monthly webinars featuring project teams supported by the NERRS Science Collaborative. Speakers will share their unique approaches to addressing current coastal and estuarine management issues. Learn about new methods to integrate technical experts and users of project outputs into the research process, and how their research results and products might inform your work. Be sure to check back periodically and download the webinar briefs to view summary notes and presentation slides from past webinars.

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Upcoming Webinars

04/21/2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm - Speaker(s): Kerstin Wasson and April Ridlon

Conservation and restoration of coastal foundation species has become a global priority, to protect and enhance the habitats and services they provide. The oyster native to the west coast of North America between Baja California and British Columbia is Ostrea lurida, the Olympia oyster, a species quite unfamiliar to many people, even those that live in the region.  Unlike oysters in other regions, this one is quite small, and does not form high profile reefs. Nevertheless, it is a vital part of bays and estuaries along the Pacific coast, providing food for humans and other species and enriching diversity.  Recently, a community of practice has formed to rebuild populations of Olympia oysters to maintain their legacy for future generations. 

The Native Olympia Oyster Collaborative (NOOC) was supported in the past year by funding from the National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s Science Collaborative.  NOOC created a website (https://olympiaoysternet.ucdavis.edu) to serve as a portal for resources about native oyster science, restoration, and education.  NOOC also compiled the first comprehensive archive of Olympia oyster restoration projects, creating an ARC GIS Story Map (https://projects.trnerr.org/oystermap/) to highlight them, and conducting a synthesis of approaches and lessons learned.

This webinar introduces the unique ecology of the Olympia oyster, the challenges it faces, and approaches taken to restoration. NOOC’s accomplishments to date will be highlighted, including the development of the web portal and story map.  Finally, presenters will share lessons learned from the synthesis of twenty years of restoration projects conducted along over 2000 km of coast line. These lessons apply to restoration of any coastal foundation species anywhere: the importance of a structured decision-framework to match goals to approaches, the  opportunities for community engagement, the need to consider ecosystem processes, and the value of a regional network for strategic planning.

Learn more about speakers

Cressman Cumulative Change

Kerstin Wasson has served as Research Coordinator of the Elkhorn Slough NERR for the past 20 years, publishing about 40 papers on a variety of topics in estuarine science during this period, from sea otters to water quality.  Her passion is restoration science of native oysters and salt marshes. While she is dedicated to place-based research, she also has led various collaborative endeavors across a network of oyster and marsh restoration sites, scaling up to seek generality in estuarine ecology.

Burdick Site 4 Maps

April Ridlon is an applied marine ecologist interested in the effects of human impacts including fishing and harvesting, recreational activities, and biological invasions. She is currently the Collaborative Lead for the Native Olympia Oyster Collaborative (NOOC), and a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP).  In these roles, she engages in and coordinates research on the native Olympia oyster, and is assessing aquaculture as a conservation intervention for this oyster, and for marine foundation species broadly. She has also been known to study the behavior of coral reef fish, Northern Elephant Seals, and neotropical bat species.   

Learn more about projectBuilding a Coastwide Olympia Oyster Network to Improve Restoration Outcomes

Past Webinars

05/23/2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm - Speaker(s): Ellie Flaherty, Kate Kirkpatrick, Trey Snow, Syverine Bentz, and Julia Wondolleck

The Kachemak Bay watershed, located on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, encompasses several terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that provide a range of benefits and services that are not easily quantified. This webinar highlighted methods and findings from a Master’s project - advised by Dr. Julia Wondolleck and for which the client was Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (KBNERR) - that provides insights about ecosystem services valued in Kachemak Bay using a socio-cultural, place-based, ecosystem services framework. In addition to hearing from the students, their partners at KBNERR shared how they hope to apply their findings, and offered ideas for others interested in working with a student team in the future.

Master's projects are interdisciplinary capstone experiences that enable University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) master's students to develop solutions to pressing problems faced by real-world clients.

About the Speakers: 

Ellie Flaherty has experience in policy and program analysis as well as environmental compliance support, and currently works as a Research Associate for the NERRS Science Collaborative. Her professional and academic background was valuable in understanding the Kachemak Bay area’s political landscape and identifying key stakeholders, user groups, and decision-makers.

Kathryn Kirkpatrick holds a particular interest in wetland restoration, fostered by various work experiences in ecological consulting, wetland banking, and independent research. This background was valuable in understanding and communicating the diverse biophysical ecosystem services present in the Kachemak Bay watershed.

Trey Snow has a background in economics and research, which provided valuable insights throughout the project’s development and in navigating existing studies and literature on ecosystem services. Following his bachelor’s in economics from Bucknell University in 2016, Trey spent time across the US from the Montana backcountry with the US Forest Service to an organic farm in New England. 

Syverine Bentz is interested in landscape change, coastal processes, and ecosystem services. She grew up on Kachemak Bay and started as a science collaborative and discovery lab volunteer at KBNERR. She currently works in the Coastal Training Program providing workshops, trainings and technical assistance.

Dr. Julia Wondolleck is an associate professor at the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan and a core team member with the Science Collaborative. She is a collaboration scholar and practitioner, and advised the project team.

Learn more about: Leveraging a U-M Master's Project team

04/11/2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm - Speaker(s): Christine Angelini, Stuart Findlay, Jennifer Raulin, Denise Sanger, and Eric Sparks

Living shoreline techniques can be effective tools for bolstering coastal habitats, controlling erosion, and protecting coastal areas from the impacts of storms, sea level rise and boat wakes. Under the right conditions, they can provide a variety of services while being cost-competitive with traditional approaches, such as bulkheads. Despite their potential, living shoreline designs are not applied as broadly or effectively as might be expected.

Members of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) and partners, in part supported by Science Collaborative resources, have been studying how different living shoreline designs perform in a variety of coastal locations from Mississippi to New York, and have been developing tools to enhance the use of these techniques.

This webinar: a) facilitated a candid panel discussion of the lessons learned, management implications and next steps related to a series of applied research projects; and b) gave audience members the opportunity to engage and ask questions about opportunities and challenges associated with living shorelines.

About the Speakers: 

Christine Angelini, Assistant Professor in Environmental Engineering Sciences, University of Florida
Christine’s research and teaching focuses on community ecology and restoration engineering in a variety of coastal habitats. In partnership with GTM Reserve in Florida, she has been testing a hybrid design for protecting oyster and salt marsh habitats from boat wakes in the busy intercoastal waterway. Learn more about project

Stuart Findlay, Aquatic Ecologist, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Stuart has been conducting research on the Hudson River ecosystem for over eighteen years with an emphasis on carbon and nutrient cycling in freshwater and tidal habitats and watershed restoration issues. Stuart has led several Science Collaborative grants related to sustainable shoreline designs and monitoring approaches in the Hudson River Valley. Learn more about project

Jennifer Raulin, Manager, Chesapeake Bay-Maryland National Estuarine Research Reserve
Jenn oversees the Chesapeake Bay Reserve’s research, training, stewardship, and education sectors. Her responsibilities include serving as the primary liaison with NOAA to manage grants and advancing coastal management practices with partners in and around the reserve’s three protected areas. Jenn brings a management perspective to the panel discussion, helping explore the applications of shoreline research projects for other reserves and regions.

Denise Sanger, Research Coordinator, ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve
Denise is a marine ecologist with expertise in benthic ecology, sediment chemistry, water quality, ecological risk assessment, and the application of science to management. She oversees long term monitoring and a range of applied research efforts at ACE Basin Reserve and has studied the performance of living shorelines all along the coast of South Carolina. Learn more about project

Eric Sparks, Assistant Extension Professor, Mississippi State University
Eric is the assistant director for outreach for Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and he focuses on estuarine and wetland issues, including coastal restoration and restoration research. He’s worked on two Science Collaborative projects assessing living shoreline use along the Gulf Coast. Learn more about project

Moderator:

Jennifer Read, NERRS Science Collaborative program manager, and Director, University of Michigan Water Center
Jen serves as the Science Collaborative's principal investigator, provides overall program leadership, and manages the day-to-day activities of the Science Collaborative program. She also serves as the Director of the University of Michigan Water Center, and drove implementation of the Integrated Assessment program while working for Michigan Sea Grant.

03/12/2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm - Speaker(s): Maggie Pletta

Download: Webinar Brief

Technology has become an integral part of environmental education, however purchasing or producing technology can be very cost prohibitive. As part of a NERRS Science Collaborative Science Transfer grant, the Delaware, Guana Tolomato Matanzas, and Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserves (the clients) partnered with the University of Delaware Introduction to Software Engineering course (the consultants). As part of their coursework, students produced educational computer games that promote interactive, free-choice learning opportunities. Maggie Pletta, Education Coordinator from Delaware NERR, provided insights about the process that led to the selection of student-developed educational games installed in the three centers, including the benefits and challenges of working with students.

About the Speaker: 

Maggie Pletta is the current Education Coordinator at the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) where she is tasked with managing and leading K-12 fieldtrips and outreach, public programs, family events, and teacher professional development workshops.  Prior to her position at DNERR she held positions at the National Park Service, NASA, Educational Non-Profits, and DNREC’s Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program. Her professional areas of interest include teaching people about estuaries and climate change, as well as  reconnecting children with nature, and making science fun for all ages.

Learn more about: Undergraduates Develop Job Skills by Creating Interactive Software for Reserve Visitors

02/14/2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm - Speaker(s): Alison Watts and Bree Yednock

Download: Webinar Brief

Environmental DNA (eDNA), or DNA present in an environmental sample, is emerging as a powerful tool to detect species present in an ecosystem without having to actually capture and identify individual organisms. Fish, invertebrates, and other animals shed DNA, through fragments of tissue and reproductive and waste products, into the environment in which they live. Alison and Bree presented initial results from a pilot eDNA monitoring program being developed and tested at several National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) sites in New England and Oregon. Sampling was conducted in coordination with traditional monitoring programs to validate species identification and detection limits.

This webinar was an opportunity for the research team to engage reserves considering eDNA monitoring, and compare notes with other researchers and natural resource managers using eDNA approaches.

About the Speaker: 

Dr. Alison Watts conducts research on water resources at the University of New Hampshire. Bree Yednock, Jason Goldstein, Chris Peter and others from South Slough, Wells and Great Bay NERRs guide the application of this project within each of their Reserves.

Dr. Bree Yednock has expertise in population genetics of estuarine organisms, molecular techniques, and bioinformatics. Her previous projects include a characterization of fish and invertebrate assemblages of the Coos estuary and an assessment of the local distribution and population structure of invasive European green crabs.

Learn more about: Developing DNA methods to monitor invasive species

Download: Webinar Brief

Since 1998, NERRS has provided competitive funding to generate usable knowledge for coastal and estuarine management. The program’s evolution—and the insights from those participating in it—can teach us much about what usable knowledge looks like on the ground and the ways to make it through collaboration. In this webinar, James Arnott recapped his research based on examining 120 past NERRS funded projects and interviewing 40 of their participants. The practical lessons derived from this work suggest that teams of researchers and users working together in collaboration might consider a series of seemingly simple—but often difficult to answer questions—in the process of their work. Questions like: Who are the users? What is use? How do you report on use? What strategies lead to use? What are the benefits of usable knowledge? The history of NERRS research accomplishments demonstrates how many and varied answers to these questions emerge and the importance of taking into account careful consideration of that diversity in planning future projects and programs. 

About the Speaker:

James Arnott is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan and Associate Director of the Aspen Global Change Institute. James has worked closely with the NERR System during the completion of his doctoral thesis on topics related to science funding, the use of science, and climate change adaptation. In 2011, James was awarded the McCloy Fellowship in Environmental Policy and in 2009 James received a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from Principia College.

Learn more about: Understanding the Drivers of Usability

10/23/2018 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm - Speaker(s): Jennifer West

Download: Webinar Brief

The New England NERRs developed and delivered a workshop on sea level rise and salt marshes, strengthening NERRS connections while providing an important information sharing opportunity for the larger community. The workshop increased knowledge of the regional status and trends of salt marsh condition; increased awareness of partnership and collaboration opportunities; improved connections between research, management, and restoration sectors; created a more robust information sharing network; and increased awareness of NERRs as unique sites suitable for long-term research and management “test beds” for management strategies.

About the Speaker: 

Jennifer West has been the Coastal Training Program Coordinator with the Narragansett Bay Research Reserve since 2005. In this position, she develops and delivers training events and technical assistance programs for municipal officials and other decision-maker audiences on topics related to water quality, habitat protection, and climate change. Jennifer has expertise in program design, management, and evaluation; communicating science to diverse audiences; meeting facilitation; and planning and implementing collaborative methods for engaging stakeholders in successfully addressing environmental issues.

Learn more about: Effects of Sea Level Rise on New England Salt Marshes

09/19/2018 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm - Speaker(s): Thomas Grothues

Download: Webinar Brief

The National Estuarine Research Reserves’ System-wide Monitoring Program  (SWMP) data can contribute to research and discussion on climate change. The treatment of temperature data is of particular concern when applied to the analysis of interannual trends. Seasonal cycles can impose fluctuations that greatly exceed diurnal, tidal, or event-scale fluctuations, and seasonally skewed distribution of missing data biases calculations of annual or seasonal means.

This webinar provided insights on encoded algorithms for measuring temperature trends, including the conservative approach of replacing missing temperature data with smoothed day-of-the-year averages and seasonal decomposition as well as the benefits and disadvantages of alternative approaches.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Thomas Grothues has a Research Faculty appointment as a fish ecologist at Rutgers University and begins as Research Coordinator for Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve System in Fall 2019. He has been using SWMP data in peer-reviewed publications about fish habitat use, migration, and recruitment since 2007.

Learn more about: Developing New Ways to Analyze Reserve Monitoring Data

07/17/2018 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm - Speaker(s): Jennifer Plunket and Robin Weber

Download: Webinar Brief

The National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System created the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Tool for Coastal Habitats (CCVATCH) to help land managers, decision makers, and researchers develop conservation, management, and restoration plans for coastal habitats in light of climate change. Reserves in New England and North and South Carolina shared the results from recent assessments they conducted. The presentation demonstrated how CCVATCH serves as an evaluation process to identify sources of vulnerability, provides a greater understanding of the potential impacts of climate change alone and in relation to existing non-climate stressors, and identifies data gaps and research needs. 

About the Speakers: 

Robin Weber has been engaged in the development of the CCVATCH from its inception and served first as an Applied Science Investigator and then as Project Lead in two funded projects designed to pilot test and implement CCVATCH at multiple locations. As a Stewardship Coordinator within the NERRS for 18 years, Ms. Weber applies science to the management and restoration of a variety of habitat types on Reserve properties and works with partners to enhance stewardship of managed lands more broadly within the State of Rhode Island.
 
Dr. Plunket initially proposed the idea of developing a climate vulnerability assessment tool designed for coastal habitats in 2011. Since then she has led a workgroup that developed the CCVATCH, served as the principal investigator on a Science Collaborative funded project to pilot test the tool, and trained staff in the CCVATCH process at NERRA/NERRS meetings. As Stewardship Coordinator at the North Inlet-Winyah Bay  NERR, Dr. Plunket works on a variety of projects directed toward the long-term conservation of the North Inlet and Winyah Bay estuaries.

Learn more about: Assessing How Climate Change Will Affect Coastal Habitats in the Northeast

06/21/2018 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm - Speaker(s): Annie Cox

Download: Webinar Brief

Coastal businesses, a powerful economic engine for Maine, are generally little prepared for storm surge and coastal flooding. Yet lessons learned from previous disasters underscore how important the recovery of businesses is to the overall recovery of a region’s economy.

The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve collaborated with the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Kennebunkport through a NERRS Science Collaborative grant, to help business owners assess their vulnerability to the impacts of a natural disaster using the Tourism Resilience Index. The Index was developed by Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and adapted for New England. Best practices identified by businesses and lessons-learned from the project will be shared.

This webinar will be led by Annie Cox, the Coastal Training Program Coordinator at Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Maine

Learn more about: Decreasing Vulnerability in Maine’s Beaches Business Community

Download: Webinar Brief

Educators from the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia (CBNERR), and Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s (VIMS) Marine Advisory Program created the Virginia Scientists and Educators Alliance (VA SEA), a network of graduate students, teachers, and informal educators. The project addressed the significant need for teaching resources and professional development that assist teachers in better demonstrating to their students the research practices of scientists, and how they apply to critical thinking skills. Through this webinar, Sarah Nuss discussed how educators transferred scientific research into usable lesson plans and outreach activities. She also discuss ways that environmental educators can mentor K-12 teachers in incorporating research-based lesson plans in the classroom on their own.

Sarah Nuss is Education Coordinator at Chesapeake Bay-Virginia National Estuarine Research Reserve. Chesapeake Bay-VA NERR is based out of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary.

Learn more about: Creating an Alliance of Scientists and Educators in Virginia

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