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Weekly Highlights


From: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Subject: Weekly Highlights, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, June 30, 2011  

Departmental/Bureau News - Current

  • Sediment Accretion from Historic 2011 Flood Along Louisiana Coast Examined: USGS National Wetlands Research Center scientist Karen McKee will collaborate with colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Mississippi to investigate the impact of the 2011 Mississippi River Flood on coastal sedimentation rates and patterns, which will “connect the dots” among river dynamics, coastal processes, and wetland stability.  The project, entitled “RAPID: Connecting the Historic 2011 Mississippi River Flood to Marsh Sedimentation on the Delta,” will be supported by a rapid response grant from the National Science Foundation awarded to the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania.  McKee will work with Douglas Jerolmack, Ben Horton and other academic experts in the study of contrasting river plumes from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers.  McKee will direct a systematic program of sampling across the Louisiana coast to document deposition of river sediment into coastal marshes of the Atchafalaya, Terrebonne, Barataria, and Mississippi River Basins with the goal of determining how much of the recent flood sediments are accreting in the wetlands.  This week, McKee and her research staff will complete the first phase of the work to collect sediment samples by helicopter across 200 kilometers of coastline.  Her collaborators are conducting cruises off the coast to collect sediment at the outlet of the Mississippi River and are acquiring satellite data to analyze sediment plumes across the coast. This project seizes a unique opportunity to examine contrasting modes of sediment dynamics, which will enhance the scientific basis for coastal restoration of the Mississippi River Delta. This research team and their investigation of the flood event were recently featured in a news article in the journal Nature (  (Karen McKee; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8662)

  • Tour for NSF-IGERT of Coastal Research and Management at Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve: USGS National Wetlands Research Center Research Ecologist Beth Middleton, Five Rivers Biologist Evelyn Anemaet, and National Park Service Ecologist Julie Whitbeck gave a lecture and tour of long-term research sites to a group from Southern Illinois University on June 22, 2011. The purpose of the visit was to discuss ecosystem approaches to coastal land management in a historical and cultural landscape setting.  The Southern Illinois University Ph.D. students were participants in the National Science Foundation Integrated Graduate Education Research and Traineeship (NSF-IGERT) Program led by Christopher Lant. (Beth Middleton; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8618)

  • NWRC Science Response Vehicle Demonstrated: USGS National Wetlands Research Center Geographer Stephen Hartley and IT Specialist Gene Nelson recently demonstrated the capabilities of the NWRC Science Response Vehicle at the 2011 Louisiana Hurricane Season Geospatial Data Mining Workshop. This year, 45 attendees representing 25 federal, state, local, university, and private organizations participated. (Stephen Hartley; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8543)

  • Invasive Species Prevention Specialist called as expert witness in Congressional Oversight Hearing on Control and Eradication of Giant Salvinia: USGS National Wetlands Research Center Biologist and Invasive Species Prevention Specialist,  Dr. Randy Westbrooks testified at a Congressional Oversight Hearing in Shreveport, La., on June 27, 2011, convened by U.S. Congressmen John Fleming (R-LA) and Louis Gohmert (R-TX) concerning efforts to control and eradicate Giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta D. Mitchell) in Louisiana and Texas.  Giant Salvinia is an aquatic Federal Noxious Weed, in the MidSouth Region of the U.S.   USGS National Wetlands Research Center Director Phil Turnipseed, NWRC Wetlands and Forest Ecosystem Branch Chief Thomas Doyle, along with USGS Communications Specialist Dave Ozman attended the meeting in support of these efforts.  During the meeting 12 expert witnesses testified and all agreed that use of a Biological Control agent known by it's common name as the Salvinia Weevil (Cyrtobagous salvinia) is an appropriate control to help stay the spread of the this foul species. All of the witnesses agreed the best control for this plant is cold weather, which can freeze the plant out of existence.  The consensus among the witnesses was there is no "silver bullet" that will eradicate this invasive plant completely.  Following the meeting, the NWRC personnel accompanied the Congressmen, other Federal, State, and local agencies and NGOs on a tour of Caddo Lake to witness the Giant Salvinia infestation.  Congressmen Fleming, Gohmert, Mr. Turnipseed, Dr. Westbrooks, and others were interviewed by several local TV stations regarding this serious plant threat to wetland ecosystem in the Mid-South Region. (Phil Turnipseed; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8501)

  • Climate Change Project Reviews held in NWRC: On June 28, 2011, USGS National Wetlands Research Center Director Phil Turnipseed, USGS National Wetlands Research Center Deputy Director Matthew Andersen, NWRC Wetlands and Forest Ecosystem Branch Chief Thomas Doyle, NWRC Wetlands and Forest Ecosystem Branch Research Ecologists Drs. Karen McKee and Jim Grace participated in project reviews with Dr. Debra Willard (USGS HQ Climate and Land Use Change Mission Area), to discuss several climate change research projects ongoing at the NWRC. Several individuals from the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Center in Maryland also participated.  The HQ team was very appreciative and complementary on the work being done by the NWRC.  (Tom Doyle; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8501)

  • NWRC Scientists To Participate in SWS Conference in Prague: USGS National Wetlands Research Center scientists Rebecca Howard, Karen McKee, Beth Middleton, and Camille Stagg will participate in the Society of Wetland Scientists 2011 International Conference in Prague, Czech Republic July 4 – 8. In addition to presenting results of their research, the scientists will participate in other activities. Howard and Stagg will serve as mentors for university undergraduate students from underrepresented groups in the biological sciences, including African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders. McKee organized and will chair a symposium titled “Determinants of Coastal Wetland Vulnerability and Resilience to Sea-Level Rise.” Middleton co-organized and will chair the symposium “Distributions and Ranges” within a session on Global Change Ecology. (Thomas Doyle; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8647)

Press Inquiries/Media - Newspapers/magazines/wires, etc.

  • Giant salvinia is the focus of Congressional hearing in Shreveport (Shreveport Times; Shreveport, La.; June 28, 2011) “Randy Westbrooks, whose focus is preventing invasive species from taking root for the U.S. Geological Survey, said drawing off all the water would be impractical and impossible.” (Randy Westbrooks; Whiteville, N.C.; 910-648-6762)

  • Congressmen take tour on Caddo Lake, seek solution to invasive plant (News-Journal; Longview, Texas; June 28, 20011) “‘They’ve got to get the weevils out early and in numbers so that they eat it faster than it grows, like a contest for if they will eat it fast enough,’ said Randy Westbrooks, an invasive species prevention specialist.” (Randy Westbrooks; Whiteville, N.C.; 910-648-6762) 

  • Green invaders! (Bossier Press-Tribune; Bossier City, La.; June 28, 2011) “Dr. Randy G. Westbrooks, Invasive Species Prevention Specialist with USGS National Wetlands Research Center in North Carolina offered a list of ideas and strategies to consider when tackling the growing problem.” (Randy Westbrooks; Whiteville, N.C.; 910-648-6762)

Press Inquiries/Media - Broadcast and Film

  • Giant Salvinia Hearing (KTBS-TV; Shreveport, La.; June 28, 2011) “It can actually just multiply and grow like a blob. Before you know it, you don’t have any oxygen in the lake. The bass, the bream, the white perch, the crappie are dead,” according to Phil Turnipseed, Director of the National Wetlands Research Center. (Phil Turnipseed; Lafayette, La., 337-266-8655)

  • Giant Salvinia rapidly growing in TX, LA lakes (KMSS Fox 33 News; Shreveport, La.; June 28, 2011) “Dr. Randy Westbrooks, an Invasive Species Prevention Specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey, told us that only one thing can make a difference completely, ‘if the public gets involved and make sure that their boats are clean.’” (Randy Westbrooks; Whiteville, N.C.; 910-648-6762)

  • NWRC Director Interviewed by Radio Talk Show Host of "The Backyard Sportsman":  USGS National Wetlands Research Center Director Phil Turnipseed was interviewed on June 23, 2011, by W. Hovey Smith, Georgia radio host of "The Backyard Sportsman" on Voice America Radio Network concerning the 2011 historic flood on the Mississippi River and how the NWRC participated in the documentation, monitoring, research, and analysis of the flood. Smith is writing recommendations for the Presidential ordered Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force.  (Gabrielle Bodin; Lafayette, La., 337-266-8655)

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