Current Projects

NGOMEX 2016: User-driven tools to predict and assess effects of reduced nutrients and hypoxia on living resources in the Gulf of Mexico

2016 – 2021: NOAA’s Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research funded three projects under the NGOMEX 2016 funding cycle. Information and progress on one of these projects, led by Kim de Mutsert, is posted on this webpage. The main goal of this project is to integrate physical, biological, bioenergetics, and ecosystem models to address how changes in nutrient loads from the Mississippi River affect fish and fisheries in the northern Gulf of Mexico, develop practical management tools based on these linked models, and deliver those to managers and stakeholders. Regular meetings with an advisory panel and stakeholders are included in the project to facilitate the transition of information and tools to decision makers.

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The New First Line of Defense: Building Community Resilience through Residential Risk Disclosure Resilience

2019 – 2022: The first line of defense for residents and their resilience is housing protected from natural hazard impacts. Yet many residents remain unaware that the building codes and zoning regulations they expect to protect them become outdated as environmental stressors, local development patterns, materials science, and construction practices change. Improved residential risk disclosure is a key component for building resilient communities. To make informed decisions about where to live and how to protect housing investments, residents require knowledge about potential natural hazard exposure and impacts along with available mitigation strategies. This project aims to advance community resilience by improving people’s understanding of risks and their willingness to undertake hazard mitigation when choosing where they live. The project team will work with communities throughout the Gulf region to test strategies for dissemination and uptake of information on disaster risk and mitigation alternatives. The ultimate goal is to identify practices most likely to result in residents taking actions to reduce risk and increase resilience.

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Panacea or Pandora’s box: coastal restoration and recreational fishing livelihoods in salt-marshes of coastal Louisiana

2020 – 2022: The proposed project will incorporate empirical data, citizen science, ethnographic interviews, and modeling techniques to understand the effects of

freshwater inputs (via anthropogenic and natural diversions) into salt marsh ecosystems and how those activities, in turn, affect behaviors and livelihoods of the recreational fishing industry. To date, studies focusing on recreational fishing in salt marshes of Louisiana have concentrated on one or a few components of the many potential sources for change, and usually, only consider a unidirectional view of human activities on salt marshes. In contrast, this proposed project will improve our understanding of how natural processes and human activities interact to influence salt marsh ecosystems; that provide key ecosystem services that support the recreational fishing industry’s livelihoods.

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Fate and effects of Karenia brevis cells, toxins, and nutrients following clay application for bloom control

2020 – 2021: As part of the new red tide mitigation initiative, Mote is building a dedicated red tide mesocosm facility that will include 24 5’x4’ tanks and 12 10’x5’ round tanks. The mesocosms include flow-through or stagnant water capability (using natural seawater), dual heat exchange temperature control, and networked control. The approach to be taken in this proposed project will rely heavily on the new mesocosm facility, utilizing tanks that can be used with natural sediments. The mesocosms for this set of experiments will contain a mix of washed siliceous medium to fine grain sands mixed with commercial crushed coral granules to maintain pH balance. Use of a known substrate, rather than naturally sourced sediments has the advantage of not complicating the chemistry, pH, BOD, and introducing potential pathogens, present in natural substrates. Benthic organisms will include local economically important species to the Florida gulf coast that have been heavily impacted by red tide.

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Modeling Lagoon Ecosystem Health over Deep Time: Developing New Methods through Convergent Research in the Indian River Lagoon, FL

2020 – 2021:  This interdisciplinary research project is aimed at understanding changes in the socio-environmental system of the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) in the Holocene Epoch (started at 10,000 years ago), with a particular focus on the past 2000 years in Mosquito Lagoon. Our research team consists of natural and social scientists in the fields of archaeology, ecology, geology, hydrology, and political science who had initially formed a collaboration to tackle similar issues at a lagoon on the Pacific coast of Mexico. When fieldwork and travel to Mexico were postponed indefinitely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the largely UCF-based team decided to transition our focus to Florida because several members had existing data sets collected in or around the IRL. Our long-term goals for the project include: 1) documenting geological, hydrodynamic and ecological change in the Mosquito Lagoon, North IRL, and Banana River regions; and 2) evaluating the ways in which adjacent human populations have both generated and responded to these changes. It is our hope that our results will ultimately provide valuable context for informing future management decisions by extending our understanding of this unique ecosystem into the distant past.