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Weekly Highlights

MEMORANDUM

From: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Subject: Weekly Highlights, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, February 13, 2014

Departmental/Bureau News - Current

Sediment Accretion Studied in Forests and Marshes: USGS NWRC ecologists Ken Krauss and Camille Stagg, along with USGS National Research Program scientists Scott Ensign, Cliff Hupp, and Gregory Noe, coauthored a paper published in Estuaries and Coasts. The paper, Sediment accretion in tidal freshwater forests and oligohaline marshes of the Waccamaw and Savannah Rivers, USA, describes sedimentation patterns along a forest-to-marsh degradation gradient caused by sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion. Tidal freshwater forests are coastal forested wetlands, while oligohaline marsh forms where large influxes of freshwater enter a salt marsh ecosystem. Sediment accretion onto the soil surface in the study areas ranged from 4.5 mm year to 19.1 mm year. Oligohaline marsh sediment accumulation was greater than buildup in tidal freshwater forests. Organic, carbon-based sediment accrual was similar across all sites, but inorganic sediment constituted the majority of accretion at both marshes and the Savannah River’s highly salt-impacted forest. The similarity in rates of sediment accretion and sea-level rise in tidal freshwater forests indicates that these habitats may become permanently inundated if the rate of sea-level rise increases. Many of these wetlands occur on Department of the Interior-managed lands in the Southeast. (Ken Krauss; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8882)

Stand Water Use in Coastal Wetland Forests Investigated: USGS NWRC Research Ecologist Ken Krauss, along with Clemson University professors Jamie Duberstein and William Conner, coauthored a paper published in Hydrological Processes on assessing stand water use in coastal wetland forests using sapflow techniques. While forests comprise approximately 37% of the terrestrial land surface, very little attention has been directed towards understanding rates and environmental impacts on stand water use from specific forested wetlands. Stands are defined as groups of forest trees of sufficiently uniform species composition, age, and condition to be considered a unit. Using sapflow data, the study determined that water use by three healthy forested wetlands varied from 1.97 to 3.97 mm day. In contrast, saltwater intrusion impacted individual tree physiology and size class distributions on a fourth site, which decreased stand water use to 0.61 to 1.13 mm day. The primary sources of error in estimations using sapflow techniques relate to standardization relative to no flow periods and accounting for accurate sapflow reduction with radial depth into the sapwood by tree species and site. Modeling of stand water use helps to define the role that forested wetlands play in affecting local water budgets. These data represent some of the first assessments from temperate, coastal forested wetlands along the Atlantic coast. The simple modeling procedures outlined can be applied widely to other forested wetlands for similar assessments. (Ken Krauss; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8882)

Marsh Soils Examined as Potential Sinks for Bacteroides: USGS NWRC Research Ecologist Ken Krauss, along with USGS scientists Judy Drexler, Heather Johnson, and Joseph Duris, coauthored a paper entitled, Marsh soils as potential sinks for Bacteroides fecal indicator bacteria, Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgetown, SC, USA. This paper appears in the journal Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, and describes the potential of marsh soil for long-term storage of bacteria associated with deer or cow feces. Core samples were collected as part of a larger study on carbon sequestration. Because the cores emitted a manure odor, samples were tested for fecal contamination. The presence of Bacteroides at different depths/ages in the soil profile indicates that soils in tidal freshwater marshes are, at the least, capable of being short-term sinks for Bacteroides and may have the potential to be long-term sinks of stable, naturalized populations. Sinks are natural or artificial reservoirs that store compounds for an indefinite period. (Ken Krauss; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8882)

Annual Southern Hardwood Forest Research Group Convened: USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed and Acting Deputy Director Tom Doyle attended the U.S. Forest Service Center for Bottomland Hardwoods Research’s (CBHR) 61st Annual Southern Hardwood Forest Research Group Meeting in Stoneville, Mississippi, on February 4. The meeting was held to discuss ongoing and future research in hardwood ecology, hydrology, biology, entomology, fisheries, and other topics of forest research significant to NWRC’s mission. (Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit’s Annual Meeting Held: USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed and Acting Deputy Director Tom Doyle attended the annual meeting of the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit held at the Louisiana State University School of Renewable Natural Resources in Baton Rouge on February 5. The LACFWRU is one of 40 Cooperative Research Units in 38 states. Each unit is a partnership among the U.S. Geological Survey, a State natural resource agency, a host university, and the Wildlife Management Institute. LACFWRU cooperators include the USGS, LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, USFWS, and the Wildlife Management Institute. This partnership meets annually at the Coordinating Committee Meeting to identify cooperator needs, set research priorities, and to discuss the direction of the Unit. Research at the Louisiana Unit largely revolves around wetlands and wetland-dependent wildlife. (Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

DOI Urban Waters Federal Partnership Teleconference Conducted: On February 10, USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed participated in a teleconference led by Department of the Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tom Iseman and DOI Urban Environmental Issues and the Anacostia Watershed Advisor Lisa Pelstring. Turnipseed discussed NWRC’s involvement in the New Orleans/Pontchartrain Pilot Project of the Federal Urban Waters Partnership. The NWRC is an active participant in the EPA-led Federal Urban Waters Partnership in the Lake Pontchartrain area (New Orleans, Louisiana) and currently has ongoing activities with several cooperators. Lake Pontchartrain is the second largest inland saltwater body in the United States. Though classified as a lake, it is technically an estuary that connects to the Gulf of Mexico. (Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

Priority Ecosystems Science Coordinator Welcomed: The week of February 18-21, USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed and Acting Deputy Director Tom Doyle hosted Nick Aumen, USGS Priority Ecosystems Science Coordinator for the Greater Everglades. Dr. Aumen oversees a significant project in south Florida. PES investigations fund ecological and geospatial science applications, collection, and data management efforts by the NWRC. This work improves society's understanding of the environment and assists in the sustainable use, protection, and restoration of the Everglades and other ecosystems within the region. During his visit, Aumen will visit the Atchafalaya River Basin, meet with members of the NWRC Executive Management Team, and have the opportunity to review and discuss some of the research center’s science. (Phil Turnipseed; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8501)

LWF Awards Panel Assembled: USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed has accepted an invitation to serve as judge of the Louisiana Wildlife Federation 50th Governor’s State Conservation Achievement Awards. Judging will take place in Baton Rouge on February 22 and awards will be presented on March 29. This program, now in its fifth decade, promotes volunteer and professional excellence in conservation work through recognition. Recipients are selected by an independent panel of judges and honored at a special banquet held in conjunction with the LWF’s annual convention. Achievement awards are given in eight categories: professional; volunteer; business; educator; youth; elected official; communications and organization. (Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

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