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Weekly Highlights

MEMORANDUM

From: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Subject: Weekly Highlights, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, May 16, 2013

Departmental/Bureau News - Current

Study Examines Influence of Salinity and Drought on Nitrogen Recycling: USGS National Wetlands Research Center Ecologist Nicole Cormier, Research Ecologist Ken Krauss, and Clemson University Professor, William Conner, co-authored a paper on the influence of salinity and drought on nitrogen recycling in freshwater forested wetlands. Their work was published by Estuaries and Coasts. Many tidally influenced forested swamps along the south Atlantic coast of the United States are undergoing dieback and are converting to marsh. Salinity is often a major factor, especially under conditions of regional drought. As the ecosystem changes, alterations in nitrogen availability and use also change, facilitating marsh expansion. This study measured stand salinity, aboveground tree productivity, litterfall, and foliar nitrogen content in two study areas to determine the mechanisms for this facilitation. Data suggest that alternative processes, such as the rate of decomposition and potential for nitrogen mineralization, on tidal swamp sites undergoing salinity-induced state change may be more important for controlling nitrogen biogeochemical cycling in soils than differences among sites in nitrogen loading via litterfall. Changes in stand health and community composition as well as nutrient cycling have important implications for plant and wildlife management decisions. (Nicole Cormier; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8838)

RSET-MH Method Fills Critical Data Gap: USGS Research Ecologists Ken Krauss, Don Cahoon, and Glenn Guntenspergen, along with three professors from the National University of Singapore, recently published a paper in Nature Climate Change entitled A global standard for monitoring coastal wetland vulnerability to accelerated sea-level rise. Sea-level rise threatens tidal wetlands around the world, and a key determinant of coastal wetland vulnerability is whether its surface elevation can keep pace with sea-level rise. Globally, a large data gap exists because wetland surface and shallow subsurface processes remain unaccounted for by traditional vulnerability assessments using tide gauges. Moreover, those processes vary substantially across wetlands so modeling platforms require relevant local data. The low-cost, simple, high-precision rod surface elevation table – marker horizon (RSET-MH) method fills this critical data gap, can be paired with spatial data sets and modeling, and is accessible to every country with coastal wetlands. Yet, RSET deployment has been limited to a few regions and purposes. In this perspectives article, the authors argue that a coordinated expansion of monitoring efforts, including development of regional networks that could support data sharing and collaboration, is crucial to adequately inform coastal climate change adaptation policy at multiple scales. (Ken Krauss; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8882)

Remote Sensing Survey of Chinese Tallow Trees: Using Hyperion sensor satellite data in conjunction with ground and aerial field surveys, USGS scientists were able to map occurrences of the invasive Chinese tallow tree in the Toledo Bend Reservoir. Elijah Ramsey III (USGS NWRC), Amina Rangoonwala (Five River Services, LLC), and Terri Bannister (UL Lafayette-CESU intern), documented the survey. This work provides a detailed account of merging more than 20 hyperspectral Hyperion sensor images with multiple Advanced Land Imager sensor images collected onboard NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite from 2009 and 2010 to map these invasive plants throughout a study area located in northwestern Louisiana and northeastern Texas. An interactive query system (uses ArcMap software*) allows retrieval of all aerial (fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter) and ground-site reconnaissance information by clicking on site location icons overlaying a composite of digital DOQQs of the Reservoir. The Chinese tallow tree, one of the greatest threats to habitat in the South, rapidly replaces native plants and trees, radically altering marsh, forest, and coastal prairie ecosystems. *Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. (Elijah Ramsey; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8575)

NWRC Hosts Blood Drive: The USGS National Wetlands Research Center hosted a blood drive on May 16. The blood drive helps to support NWRC’s annual employee health fair and the local community. NWRC hosts blood drives periodically throughout the year. (Susan Hoover; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8517)

NWRC Attends USACE Change of Command Ceremony: USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed was invited by Major General John Peabody (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commander of the Mississippi Valley Division and President of the Mississippi River Commission) to attend the USACE’s New Orleans District Change of Command Ceremony taking place on May 23 in honor of Colonel Edward Fleming and Colonel Richard Hansen at the USACE Headquarters in New Orleans. Turnipseed was also invited to a reception downtown the evening of May 22 where he will represent the NWRC and USGS. (Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

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