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Weekly Highlights

MEMORANDUM

From: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Subject: Weekly Highlights, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, October 31, 2013

Departmental/Bureau News - Current

New Technique for Measuring Tree Growth Improves Efficiency: USGS NWRC research ecologist Beth Middleton and contractor Evelyn Anemaet of Five Rivers Services, Inc., co-authored a paper in Applications in Plant Sciences entitled Dendrometer bands made easy: using modified cable ties to measure incremental growth of trees. The authors were inspired to develop an alternative to the traditional method of dendrometer band construction during their research on baldcypress swamps. Construction of the traditional band is time-consuming and the sharp edges of the metal are hazardous. The new method uses modified prefabricated cable tie heads and bands to form the dendrometer bands. The modified cable tie heads provide uniform collars, unlike traditional collars which are each hand-made, and the cable tie bands are smooth-edged, so they are much easier to handle. This study compared the two methods of dendrometer band construction under ideal (non-field) conditions, and evaluated the effectiveness of both methods for measuring tree growth. The modified cable tie method was faster than the traditional method, and comparable at measuring tree growth. In field conditions (such as flooded swamps or unstable terrain) the installation time for cable tie bands was up to 20 minutes faster, and much less likely to injure the installer than traditional bands. Cable tie materials were developed for military and industrial use in bundling electrical wires, so they have a high temperature range and the corrosion resistance to withstand extreme weather conditions, making them potentially very useful in ecological studies. (Evelyn Anemaet; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8630)

Paper Reviews Global Mangrove Expansion: USGS NWRC research ecologist Ken Krauss has an online early article in Global Change Biology. Co-authors include scientists from Australia, Vietnam, and South Africa. The paper, Mangrove expansion and salt marsh decline at mangrove poleward limits, reviews what is known about mangrove expansion globally, especially about the genus Avicennia. Evidence suggests that mangrove species have proliferated at or near their poleward limits on at least five continents over the past half century at the expense of salt marsh. The changes are consistent with the poleward extension of temperature thresholds coincident with sea-level rise, although the specific mechanism of range extension might be complicated by limitations on dispersal or other factors. The shift from salt marsh to mangrove dominance on subtropical and temperate shorelines has important implications. Research documenting changes in wetland community structure and function as mangroves replace salt marshes are currently underway at a number of USGS science centers. Land managers who are tasked with protecting habitat for non-mangrove fauna are being challenged globally with habitat conversion as temperatures become more favorable for mangrove expansion. (Ken Krauss; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8882)

Study Results Presented During CaGIS/ASPRS 2013 Specialty Conference: USGS NWRC contractor Amina Rangoonwala of Five Rivers Services, Inc., presented “Coastal Flooding and Marsh Resource Monitoring With Radar and Optical Satellite Sensor Data,” during the 2013 Specialty Conference, Imaging and Mapping for Disaster Management. The conference was hosted by the Cartography and Geographic Information Society and the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, and was held in San Antonio, Texas, October 27-30. She gave an overview of work conducted with USGS research scientist Elijah Ramsey III following Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008. The study used fused satellite radar with optical applications to (1) track nearly three months persistence of hurricane surge flooding along the Louisiana coast; (2) demonstrate and validate coastwide operational mapping of subcanopy flooding (storms, tides, rainfall, etc.); (3) document the sudden dieback of 111,000 ha of fresh and 411,100 ha of saline marshes along the entire Louisiana coastline within three weeks of the storms; and (4) provide a remote sensing indicator of marsh dieback severity. (Amina Rangoonwala; Lafayette, La; 337-266-8558)

LCC Work Communicated Through 2013 Research Symposium: Representatives from the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) and the Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks LCC, in cooperation with the USGS National Wetlands Research Center, gave presentations during the 2013 Research Symposium hosted by the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Moss Point, Mississippi. Kristen Kordecki (GCP) reviewed the Gulf Coast Vulnerability Assessment. John Tirpak (GCPO) gave an overview of the Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks LCC. Michael Osland (USGS NWRC/GCPO LCC) discussed macroclimatic drivers of tidal wetland ecosystems along the Gulf of Mexico coast. Understanding and sharing landscape research priorities at meetings such as these avoids duplication of efforts and better leverages public dollars for conservation science on the Gulf of Mexico. GCP and GCPO LCC staffs are located at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center. (Kristen Kordecki; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8535)

Wetland Remote Sensing and Wetland Photo-Interpretation Workshops: USGS NWRC geographers Steve Hartley and Christopher Wells will teach two workshops in partnership with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s NASA Regional Applications Center. The “Introduction to Wetland Remote Sensing and Mapping” workshop, October 30-November 1, is a specially designed introductory 3-day session of lectures, discussions, and hands-on exercises. Sessions emphasize the use of manual and cognitive interpretation skills in assessing and mapping wetland vegetation from species level to broad vegetative level classifications using aerial photography/imagery. The second workshop, “Advanced Wetland Photo-Interpretation,” November 4-6, covers developing a methodology for mapping wetland projects; applying the Classification of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United States system; interpreting seasonal color infrared aerial photographs/imagery; using topographic maps, soil surveys, historical wetland aerial imagery, and ancillary information as aids in the photo interpretation/analytical process; and using ground-truthing techniques and other field data. (Christopher Wells; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8651)

GOMA Federal Work Group Meeting: USGS NWRC director Phil Turnipseed, branch chief Scott Wilson, ecologist Kate Spear, and geographer Larry Handley will participate in the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) Federal Work Group Webinar on October 31. Presentations will be made by Holly Greening, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and Larry Parsons, Coastal Environmental Team of the Mobile Distinct Corps of Engineers. 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.; 337-266-8655)

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