Environmental Flows. There is currently six times more water in reservoirs than in the natural environment worldwide, and the consequent reduction of environmental flows has dramatically altered landscapes, seascapes, and aquatic habitats. In coastal estuaries, freshwater inflows drive water quality by introducing nutrients and diluting salinities. Flows also deliver sediments that balance erosion rates. The sediments, nutrients, and salinity create environmental conditions that are required by estuarine dependent species. Our group measures water quality, sediments, and benthic organisms (polychaetes, mollusks, and crustaceans) to quantify regimes of freshwater inflow needed to maintain estuary productivity and health. Some project titles are listed below.
- Long-Term Response of Benthic communities to Freshwater Inflow in Texas Coastal Bend Estuaries
- Effect of Climate Change and Climatic Variability on Freshwater Inflow, Water Quality, Benthic Communities, and Secondary Production in Texas Estuaries.
- Flow Relationship to Bay Health: Benthic Indicators
- Environmental Information Systems.
- Effects of climate and land use/land cover change on the link between uplands and coastal estuaries.
Environmental Effects of Offshore Oil and Gas Activities.
Gulf of Mexico produces 95% of US oil and gas, and about 50% of the total US production. It also produces 1.4 billion pounds of seafood annually, representing 78% of USA shrimp landings and 62% of USA oyster landings. It provides 44% of USA recreational fishing. So, the Gulf is enormously important to the US economy, yet is is subject to multiple stressors, including hypoxia, over-fishing, and hydrocarbon production. The Ecosystems group is using benthic indicators to identify environmental stress and assess ecosystem health of the Gulf of Mexico.
McMurdo Station (Antarctica) Long Term Monitoring.
The objective of this project is to determine the human footprint in McMurdo Sound using benthic indicators.