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Weekly Highlights

MEMORANDUM

From: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Subject: Weekly Highlights, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, January 24, 2013  

Departmental/Bureau News - Current

  • Genetic Research Assists Conservation of Endangered Species: USGS NWRC Microbiologist Jill Jenkins worked with colleagues from the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, located in New Orleans, on a project to conserve the endangered black-footed cat, Felis nigripes. Black-footed cats look similar to domestic kittens, but their numbers, according to the Feline Conservation Federation, are very low. There are only 19 such cats in zoo collections in the United States, and only 40 around the world. Native to South Africa, the black-footed cat is one of the smallest wild felines. Jenkins used flow cytometry analyses of nuclei to provide information on DNA modifications, important in cloning the animal. This research was published in Reproduction in Domestic Animals in a paper titled, Scriptaid and 5-aza-2'deoxycytidine Enhanced Expression of Pluripotent Genes and in vitro Developmental Competence in Interspecies Black-Footed Cat Cloned Embryos. Two male kittens were the first of their kind to be born from a frozen embryo via in vitro fertilization. This ground-breaking birth is the latest advance in assisted reproduction for endangered species. Because these cats are threatened with extinction, they are listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. (Jill Jenkins; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8607)

  • Cypress-Tupelo Wetlands Restoration: USGS NWRC Research Ecologist Ken Krauss, along with colleagues from academia, co-authored a book chapter on restoring freshwater cypress-tupelo wetlands in the southeastern United States following severe hurricanes. Hurricanes cause wide-spread damage from wind and surge events, with impacts often worsened by human-mediated coastal modifications (e.g., dredging, navigation channels, etc.). Restoration of forested wetlands in coastal areas is important because emergent canopies can greatly diminish wind penetration, thereby reducing the wind stress available to generate surface waves and storm surge that are the major cause of damage to coastal ecosystems and their surrounding communities. Large-scale restoration of coastal forests can be attempted to create a landscape capable of minimizing storm impacts and maximizing wetland sustainability. This chapter outlines efforts to restore forests through plantings, and provides a concise overview of important considerations when attempting to rebuild coastal forests. The information is useful to coastal land managers interested in designing future plantation efforts in the coastal zone by detailing some of the pitfalls of past efforts and highlighting important characteristics that could drive future efforts. (Ken Krauss; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8882)

  • Polarimetric SAR Used for Oil Detection and Impact Monitoring: USGS NWRC scientist Elijah Ramsey, and Remote Sensing Specialist Amina Rangoonwala, with Five Rivers Services, LLC at USGS NWRC, gave a presentation during the 2013 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference held January 21 in New Orleans on detecting oil and monitoring latent changes shown by Deepwater Horizon oil occurrences within the coastal marshes of eastern Louisiana. They discussed the remote sensing methods used for this study based on NASA’s high spatial resolution and fully polarimetric L-band SAR, UAVSAR (Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar), sensor system. UAVSAR, when flown over the same area multiple times, is uniquely designed to show changes that have occurred. L-band refers to the wavelength or frequency range used by the radar. Polarimetric Synthetic Aperture radar imagery provides information on how different polarizations of the electromagnetic waves interact with the earth’s surface and can be used to distinguish between man-made and natural objects. Airborne radar allows scientists to obtain data when and where needed during emergency responses. (Elijah Ramsey; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8575)|

  • Collaborative Project Maps Oil in Coastal Marshes: As part of a USGS NWRC and NASA collaborative project to map oil in coastal marshes and inland waters, NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed, scientists Elijah Ramsey and Clint Jeske (NWRC), Zhaohui Chi (ULL-CESU), and Cathleen E. Jones (NASA JPL-CalTech) conducted reconnaissance of the marshes and waters within Barataria Bay, Louisiana, on January 25. Barataria Bay was the focus of the successful 2010 USGS-NASA Macondo-1 oil spill mapping project that relied on NASA’s quick response and advanced polarimetric radar imaging system, UAVSAR. NASA and USGS extended those successes with 2011 and 2012 anniversary UAVSAR data collections of the Louisiana and Mississippi marshes and coastal waters. They are now extending the mapping methods developed during the 2010 response to a wider region surrounding the Mississippi River Delta. This collaboration also broadens the detection of oil occurrences to monitoring marsh latent response to the oil exposure by fusing the capabilities of the UAVSAR with NASA’s advanced high spectral resolution mapping system, AVIRIS. Ultimately, the USGS-NASA objective is that the fused mapping system will instantaneously determine the location and severity of a wetland resource impact and directly monitor the short- and long-term condition of those impacted areas. (Elijah Ramsey; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8575)

  • Tensas River Basin Forest History: On January 29-30, USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed, Research Wildlife Biologist Wylie Barrow, and Five Rivers Services, LLC at USGS NWRC contractor Heather Baldwin will meet with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 4 and Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge officials at the National Wetlands Research Center’s Lafayette facilities to discuss collaboration on a forest history project for the Tensas River Basin in Louisiana. Once the largest contiguous tract of floodplain forest in North America, only a small percentage of the Lower Mississippi River Valley’s historic extent remains, much of it as isolated fragments. A small tract of land in the heart of the Lower Mississippi River Valley, made famous from Ivory-billed woodpecker studies in the 1930s, is a key to connecting existing forest fragments. Roughly 85 per cent of the forests were cleared due to agricultural development. Clearing of the forest has intensified flooding problems and increased erosion. Results of the project will be used by the USFWS for restoration planning, forest management, and monitoring forest change. (Wylie Barrow; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8668)

  • GOMA Federal Work Group Webinar: USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed will participate in the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Federal Work Group Webinar on January 31. David Kidwell, (NOAA), will provide an update on a study of the Ecological Effects of Sea Level Rise in the Northern Gulf, while Shelby Walker will provide an update of the RESTORE Act Science Program. The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is a partnership of the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, with the goal of significantly increasing regional collaboration to enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico. GOMA has identified priority issues that are regionally significant and can be effectively addressed through increased collaboration at local, State, and Federal levels. (Phil Turnipseed; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8501)

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