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Weekly Highlights

MEMORANDUM

From: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Subject: Weekly Highlights, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, November 22, 2012  

Departmental/Bureau News - Current

  • New Paper Discusses the Halophytic Nature of Mangroves: USGS NWRC Research Ecologist Ken Krauss recently co-authored a paper for the journal Trees - Structure and Function, entitled “On the halophytic nature of mangroves.” A halophyte is a plant that grows well in salty soil. Plants can adapt to a highly saline environment either by tolerating salt or by avoiding it. Plants that have developed mechanisms to avoid salt (such as excreting excess salt through leaves) are referred to as facultative halophytes. Much of what is understood about mangrove physiological ecology is based on the belief that mangroves are facultative halophytes, and thus survive in salt water, but do not have a biological requirement for salt. Recent discourse has suggested otherwise; this mini-review attempts to clarify the distinction, explain why the distinction is important, and re-define mangroves as facultative halophytes. Mangroves protect shorelines from damaging storms, tropical winds, waves and floods, and help prevent erosion by stabilizing sediments with their tangled root systems. They maintain water quality and clarity by filtering pollutants and trapping sediments originating from land, and provide nursery habitat for various aquatic organisms. (Ken Krauss; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8882)

  • Manuscript Describes Biogeochemical Shifts in Nutrient Mineralization Patterns: USGS research scientists Ken Krauss, Greg Noe and Cliff Hupp recently co-authored a paper with university colleagues on a study of tidal freshwater forested wetlands. The paper was published in the journal Biogeochemistry. Study sites were located along the blackwater Waccamaw River in South Carolina and the alluvial Savannah River in Georgia. Blackwater rivers have a deep, slow-moving channel, flow through forested wetlands, and have dark, stained waters from decomposing plant material. Alluvial rivers have a well-defined drainage basin, high sediment loads, and flow through large forested floodplains. The study found that salinity increases rates of net nitrogen and phosphorus mineralization fluxes and turnover in wetland forests. This may facilitate a state change by promoting greater nutrient availability as overstory trees become more stressed by salt water. Understanding the extent to which natural coastal systems can respond to environmental change and continue to provide essential services to society increases the likelihood that adaptation efforts will be successful. (Ken Krauss; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8882)

  • New Methodology for Ecological Indices: USGS National Wetlands Research Center-Five Rivers Services contractor Don Schoolmaster and USGS NWRC scientist Jim Grace, along with collaborators from the National Park Service, USGS, and the University of Wisconsin in Stout, have published a new methodology in the international journal Ecological Indicators. The article, “An algorithmic and information-theoretic approach to multimetric index construction,” proposes a new approach that is both more repeatable and that produces more sensitive indices. Multimetric indices are used to measure, track, summarize, and infer the impact of human disturbance on biological communities. The importance of this work comes from the increasingly widespread use of such indices to assess natural resources. (Jim Grace; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8632)

  • USGS Partners with NPS to Understand Road Mortality Impacts to Salamanders: Researchers from the USGS Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative have begun a project in collaboration with the National Park Service and the Mississippi Natural Heritage Program to better understand the impact of road mortality to a population of salamanders living along the Natchez Trace Parkway near Jackson, Mississippi. Several species of salamander occur in the area and hundreds of individuals cross the road during annual breeding migrations in the fall and winter. These road crossings make the salamanders vulnerable to mortality from vehicles using that portion of the parkway. The team will monitor salamander movements using drift fences along the road and around an important breeding pond to determine the effect of road mortality on the long-term viability of the population. This data will provide the NPS with the information they need to best mitigate the problem. (Hardin Waddle; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8671)

  • NWRC Participates in Southeast and Caribbean Climate Community of Practice Meeting: On November 26, USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed will participate in a teleconference of the Southeast and Caribbean Climate Community of Practice (CoP). The Southeast and Caribbean Climate CoP is part of the StormSmart Coasts National Network. The community was created to explore the state of climate science, learn how coastal communities can adapt to climate change impacts, and share lessons-learned related to climate communication and adaptation. It is comprised of individuals from State and Federal agencies, academia, non-profits, and local communities. The meeting will include representatives from organizations around the Gulf who are conducting extension, outreach, and educational programs regarding climate change impacts and adaptation strategies. (Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

  • Bayou Teche Water Quality Research: On November 26, University of Louisiana at Lafayette Biologist Whitney Broussard and USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed will meet to discuss water quality and ecosystem research on the Bayou Teche. In recent years, Broussard has devoted much research to the historic Bayou Teche in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation. Turnipseed and Broussard will discuss how the NWRC might help ULL with a new water quality monitoring project on the bayou. The Bayou Teche is on the EPA’s list of impaired waterways and cannot support fish and wildlife propagation. (Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

  • Urban Waters Federal Partnership: On November 26, USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed will discuss NWRC’s involvement in the New Orleans/Lake Pontchartrain pilot project of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership during a teleconference led by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior. The Lake Pontchartrain area is one of seven locations selected for help from the partnership. The Lake Pontchartrain Urban Waters Federal Partnership Pilot project supports local efforts to reconstruct and restore local ecosystems. The NWRC is working on an advanced geospatial computer application and a Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act-led (CWPPRA) video in cooperation with the University of New Orleans Coastal Education and Research Facility located in New Orleans, Louisiana. Turnipseed will convey the status of the CWPPRA video and outline the new pilot geospatial graphical user interface being developed for the New Orleans/Lake Pontchartrain area. (Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

  • South Central Climate Science Center Planning Workshop: November 29-30, USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed and Bill Bartush (Coordinator for the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) and NWRC scientist) will participate in a science capabilities meeting of the South Central Climate Science Center (SC CSC) at the National Weather Service Southern Region Headquarters in Ft. Worth, Texas. The meeting is intended to provide an opportunity to identify near- and long-term, high-priority SC-CSC research topics. Turnipseed and Bartush will represent the NWRC and GCP LCC, respectively, at the workshop and present current science thrusts and future plans with respect to the SC CSC. (Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

  • Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas Coordination Meeting: NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) representatives will lead a teleconference on data coordination with the USGS NWRC, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and others concerning the Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas. NWRC Branch Chief Scott Wilson and Ecologist Kate Spear will represent the NWRC Director on this call. Based on the idea of a traditional atlas, but offered via the Internet, the atlas provides answers to questions related to the physical environment, marine resources, and economic activity in the Gulf of Mexico. Information is presented in the form of map plates, with descriptions written by recognized subject matter experts, explaining how the data were gathered and how they are relevant. The Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas includes data from Federal, State, non-governmental agencies, and academia. (Scott Wilson; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8644)

  • NRCS Louisiana State Technical Committee Meeting: USGS NWRC Botanist Larry Allain will represent the NWRC Director and participate in the Natural Resources Conservation Service Louisiana State Technical Committee meeting on November 28, in Alexandria, Louisiana. The LSTC is an advisory group coordinated by the NRCS Louisiana State Conservationist to help organize and deliver Farm Bill related program benefits. USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed represents the USGS in Louisiana on this committee. (Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

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