Matagorda Bay Ecosystem Assessment

Principal Investigator

Spanning over 400 square miles of the Texas coast, Matagorda Bay supports several industries important to the Texas economy, including commercial and recreational fishing, agriculture and tourism, while serving as a rich resource for fish and wildlife. It also hosts endangered sea turtles and provides a food source for several species of threatened shorebirds — the last wild flock of whooping cranes can be found hunting in its marshes. Despite its economic and environmental value, little research has been conducted on the distribution and health of the bay's many habitats and their importance to the ecosystem.

The Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation is partnering with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts’ Natural Resources Program to develop comprehensive economic and ecological information and tools designed to support communities in sustaining economic development while protecting natural resources and species. To accomplish this, the Sportfish Center has assembled a team of world-class sea turtle and avian biologists and marine ecologists to implement an interdisciplinary ecosystem assessment for West Matagorda Bay that will inform the development of effective restoration and conservation strategies of sea turtle and shorebird populations.

The research team, led by Stunz, includes co-principal investigators Dr. Jim Gibeaut, HRI’s Endowed Chair for Coastal and Marine Geospatial Sciences; Dr. Jennifer Pollack, HRI Chair for Coastal Conservation and Restoration; Dr. Mike Wetz, HRI Chair for Coastal Ecosystem Processes; Dr. Pamela Plotkin of Texas A&M University and Texas Sea Grant; Drs. Jay R. Rooker and R.J. David Wells of Texas A&M University at Galveston; and Edmund L. Oborny Jr. of BIO-WEST, Inc.