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Weekly Highlights

MEMORANDUM

From: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Subject: Weekly Highlights, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, January 17, 2013  

Departmental/Bureau News - Current

  • Using Models to Predict Locations of Wetland Plant Communities: USGS ecologists Gregg Snedden and Greg Steyer published a paper in Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science on predictive occurrence models. Results using data collected during 2008 from 173 sites suggest that models based on a few key hydrologic variables can be valuable tools for predicting plant community development when restoring and managing coastal wetlands. The distribution of coastal wetland plant communities is primarily determined by gradients in salinity and flooding patterns across estuarine basins. In many regions around the world, coastal hydrology is gradually changing in response to sea-level rise, particularly in regions with high subsidence rates. In addition to hydrologic changes brought about by climate change, many restoration efforts in river deltas aim to restore historic freshwater inputs. Therefore, it is important to anticipate and model the impacts that these hydrologic changes may have on the distribution of wetland plants. Incorporating occurrence probabilities into existing landscape change models would increase their accuracy and improve the ability to predict landscape changes in response to continued hydrologic alterations such as river diversions, levee construction, and sea-level rise. (Gregg Snedden; Baton Rouge, La; 225-578-7583)

  • Genetics of Cypress Trees in River Plains and Swamps: USGS NWRC Ecologist Beth Middleton coauthored an article comparing the population genetic structure of Taxodium distichum (cypress) in the Mississippi River Valley with trees in Florida. The paper was published by the journal Tree Genetics and Genomes. Middleton’s coauthors are molecular geneticists from Japan, who are experts in the molecular genetics of cypress. Study results suggest that (1) the populations of the Mississippi Valley and the Florida regions are divided into two major genetic groups, which might originate from different glacial refugia, and (2) the patterns of genetic differentiation and phenotypic differentiation were not parallel in this species. Populations across the Mississippi River Alluvial Valley likely originated from relict populations in Florida after the last glacial epoch. From a climate change perspective, these findings suggest that baldcypress are genetically similar across this part of the range, so that the response of these trees to future environmental conditions may be similar. (Beth Middleton; middletonb@usgs.gov; 337-266-8618)

  • Potential Climate Change Impacts on Wetlands: USGS NWRC Ecologist Beth Middleton has edited a book published by Springer entitled Global Change and the Function and Distribution of Wetlands. This book is the first in a series sponsored by the Society of Wetland Scientists Global Change Ecology Section. Each chapter is a literature synthesis on the impacts of climate change on wetland function and distribution. Topics include lessons from paleoecology, salt marshes and mangroves, methane dynamics, and drought in freshwater wetlands. This annual book series from the SWS Global Change Ecology Section will highlight the potential impacts of climate change on wetlands. (Beth Middleton; middletonb@usgs.gov; 337-266-8618)

  • Effects of Drought on Freshwater Wetlands: USGS NWRC Research Ecologist Beth Middleton has coauthored a book chapter on the effects of climate-change-induced drought and freshwater wetlands. The chapter synthesizes literature on the impact of severe drought on wetlands. This work explores the threat of drought to wetland functions including biodiversity, production, decomposition, and regeneration. The chapter also examines the potential for wetland recovery following major drought via surviving vegetation and seed banks. Lastly, it describes strategies for improving wetland recovery following drought. Information in this chapter contributes to a better understanding of how climate-change-induced drought may affect the function and distribution of wetlands in the future. (Beth Middleton; middletonb@usgs.gov; 337-266-8618)

  • SARP Science and Data Committee Meeting: The Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP) held a Science and Data Committee Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia on January 7-8. Geographic Information System Specialist Nicholas Enwright (Five Rivers Services, USGS NWRC), Geographer Steve Hartley (NWRC), and Physical Scientist Craig Conzelmann (NWRC) delivered a presentation via WebEx on the Aquatic Data and Decision Information Compilation Tool (ADDICT). The team was tasked with developing a web-based interactive aquatic habitat restoration and conservation prioritization and information tool for both freshwater and coastal systems in the southeastern United States. The tool is intended to be highly flexible with functionality to overlay information from aquatic plans, fisheries management plans, and conservation priorities. (Nicholas Enwright; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8613)

  • NWRC Hosts GCP LCC Steering Committee Meeting: The Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative steering committee meeting was held at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center January 8-10. The meeting was hosted by Center Director Phil Turnipseed (USGS) and facilitated by Bill Bartush (GCP LCC), Allison Shipp (USGS), and Mike Carloss (LDWF). The event was well-attended with topics including the selection of focal species, engagement of additional partners, restoration and the RESTORE Act, the Southeast Conservation Planning Atlas, and ongoing conservation activities in the Edwards Plateau region in Texas. (Bill Bartush; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8816)

  • Urban Waters Federal Partnership: On January 15-16, in New Orleans, USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed will discuss NWRC’s work with the New Orleans/Lake Pontchartrain Urban Waters Federal Partnership pilot project during a meeting of Federal, State, local, and nongovernmental organizations led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The project supports local efforts to reconstruct and restore local ecosystems. The NWRC is working on a geospatial computer application and a video in cooperation with CWPPRA and the University of New Orleans Coastal Education and Research Facility. Marc Comeaux, a computer scientist with the NWRC Advanced Applications Team, will accompany Turnipseed and outline the geospatial graphical user interface being developed for the New Orleans/Lake Pontchartrain area. (Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

  • Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference: USGS NWRC Branch Chief Scott Wilson will attend the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference from January 21-23, in New Orleans. The conference is designed to bring together the research community in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond to share the latest scientific results with three goals to: (1) provide greater context and integration to ongoing research; (2) initiate dialogue with stakeholders about how research will impact processes for policy, conservation and management; and (3) enhance public understanding of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. The USGS is one of the conference sponsors. (Scott Wilson; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8644)

  • NASA Gulf of Mexico Initiative ROSES Workshop: USGS NWRC Branch Chief Scott Wilson will attend the NASA Gulf of Mexico Initiative ROSES Workshop from January 23-25, in New Orleans. The workshop will present research from projects funded by the 2008 and 2009 ROSES solicitations that have created algorithms, processes, models, and tools that help people throughout the region better understand the environment and make informed decisions about issues such as marsh loss, harmful algal blooms, levees, storm surge, invasive species, and climate change. Wilson manages a technical branch that includes computer scientists, physical scientists, geographers, GIS specialists, photointerpreters, and spatial analysis technicians. (Scott Wilson; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8644)

  • NWRC Staff Participate in CWPPRA Task Force Meeting: USGS NWRC Branch Chief and Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act Public Outreach Committee Chairman Scott Wilson, Ecologist Kate Spear, and CWPPRA Outreach Coordinator and Five Rivers Education Specialist Susan Testroet-Bergeron will participate in the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act Task Force meeting in New Orleans on January 24. Testroet-Bergeron will present the outreach committee's quarterly report to the Task Force. (Scott Wilson; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8644)

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