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Weekly Highlights

MEMORANDUM

From: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Subject: Weekly Highlights, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, December 6, 2012  

Departmental/Bureau News - Current

  • Paper Links the 2011 Mississippi River Flood to Marsh Sedimentation: USGS NWRC Scientist Emeritus Karen McKee recently co-authored a paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience entitled “Linking the historic 2011 Mississippi River flood to coastal wetland sedimentation.” McKee collaborated with colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania and others to study how flood waters deliver sediment to the wetlands in the Mississippi River Delta. The study involved analysis of satellite images of sediment plumes emerging from the mouths of the Atchafalaya and Mississippi Rivers, off-shore sampling by boat of sediment carried from the river into the Gulf of Mexico, and a helicopter survey of sediment deposited in marshes. The measurements will help inform restoration plans designed to slow wetland loss and promote marsh building along the Louisiana coast. See the June 30, 2011 highlight for more information on this study. (Karen McKee; Baton Rouge, La.; 225-978-7481)

  • Review Compares Historical and Current Ecosystem Management Techniques: USGS NWRC Research Ecologist Beth Middleton published an article in Biological Conservation entitled “Rediscovering traditional vegetation management in preserves: trading experiences between cultures and continents.” Land managers are grappling with massive changes in vegetation structure, particularly in protected areas formerly subjected to fire and grazing. The objective of this review was to compare notes on the historical and current management of ecosystems around the world (especially in wet to dry grasslands in the Americas, Australia, Africa, Europe and Asia) with respect to the use of fire, grazing and cutting to reduce dominance and support the biodiversity of rare species. This review suggests that former disturbances, which are now often lost, may have once kept tall vegetation from pushing out rarer subdominant species. In cases where prehistoric biodiversity depended on fire or large ungulate grazing, traditional agricultural and indigenous practices may have carried biodiversity forward to historical times by mimicking pre-cultural disturbances (e.g., lightning fire and bison grazing). Ironically, biodiversity related to species richness, landscape heterogeneity and function may decline in preserves, especially if traditional management once maintained this biodiversity. Managers can benefit from a cross-continental comparison of the full arsenal of management techniques used to control encroaching vegetation. (Beth Middleton; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8618)

  • NWRC Hosts Chinese Academy of Sciences Researchers: Two scientists from the Key Laboratory of Wetland Ecology and Environment, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changchun, P.R. China, are working with scientists located at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center this year. Dr. Xiaohui Liu and Yanjing Lou are studying the regeneration ecology of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) in the North American Baldcypress Swamp Network. Liu is an associate professor and Lou is a postdoctoral scientist, both at the same institute in China. The baldcypress is Louisiana’s state tree and is widespread throughout the swamps of Louisiana, although the population is declining due to salt water intrusion and other factors. (Beth Middleton; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8618)

  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette Science Partnership Expansion: On December 3, ULL Department of Biology Head Paul Leberg, biology professors Mark Hester, Scott France, and Brad Moon, and ULL Center for Ecology and Environmental Technology Director Susan Mopper met with USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed and other Executive Management Team members to discuss research opportunities. Turnipseed and Leberg gave overviews of their respective programs and agreed to exchange technical knowledge through shared seminars during 2013. (Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

  • National Triploid Grass Carp Inspection and Certification Program: USGS NWRC Research Microbiologist Jill Jenkins was invited to present information to inspectors during the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s NTGCICP meeting held December 5-6, at the Warm Springs Fish Technology Center in Georgia. Jenkins updated attendees on flow cytometry technology, how it can be used to develop a Gold Standard for postmortem assessments, the status of ploidy determination research, and strategies for applying biotechnology to goals delineated in the National Asian Carp Plan. The inspection program was developed to provide assurance that shipments of grass carp alleged to be all triploid, do not, within the confidence limits of the program, contain diploids (fertile) fish. Determining ploidy--the number of chromosome sets (two or three) in a cell--allows scientists to assess the breeding potential and spread of invasive carp. (Jill Jenkins; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8607)

  • CWPPRA Technical Committee Meeting: USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed, NWRC Branch Chief Scott Wilson, USGS Ecologist Kate Spear, and Five Rivers Services contractors Susan Testroet-Bergeron and Cole Ruckstuhl will participate in the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act Technical Committee meeting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on December 12. Wilson serves as the CWPPRA Public Outreach Committee Chairman, Testroet-Bergeron serves as the Outreach Coordinator, and Ruckstuhl serves as CWPPRA’s Media Specialist. The Act was authorized in 1990 to identify, prepare, and fund construction of coastal wetlands restoration projects. Since its inception, 151 coastal restoration or protection projects have been approved, benefiting over 110,000 acres in Louisiana. (Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin, Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

  • RESTORE Act's Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Inaugural Meeting: On December 12, USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed and Branch Chief Greg Steyer will attend the first public meeting of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. The meeting will be held in Mobile, Alabama. The council's membership includes the governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas; the secretaries of the Federal departments of Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, and Homeland Security, and the secretary of the Army and administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The governors selected, and President Obama appointed, the Commerce secretary as the Council’s chair. The first meeting will introduce the Council to the public. It will also give the public the opportunity to provide feedback on the Council’s restoration planning efforts. USGS NWRC personnel have been involved in the science implementation of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force leading up to the Council. Turnipseed and Steyer will provide recent publications authored by the NWRC that discuss land area change in coastal Louisiana and the Center’s Gulf of Mexico ecosystem research. (Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin, Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

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