YSI Grant to Further Estuary Nutrient Load Studies
The University of West Florida (UWF) recently received a $25,000 grant from the YSI Foundation to synthesize water quality data and address issues of climate change.
Gayle Rominger, executive vice president of YSI, presented the grant to Jane Caffrey, Ph.D., associate professor at UWF. Rominger said, “While millions of water quality-related data points are collected each year in the U.S., recent economic hardships have left many researchers and managers without the funding to analyze those data in order to make meaningful ecological interpretations. The Foundation’s goal this year was to help with this necessary task.”
According to Caffrey, “With the YSI grant, we can fund a graduate student project, which will help us analyze nutrient and continuous dissolved oxygen data from five National Estuarine Research Reserves in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and Florida Atlantic coast to determine the rate of primary production and net ecosystem metabolism. This work will provide insights to help local and regional managers address water quality issues within their sensitive estuarine and coastal aquatic habitats.”
Eutrophication, harmful algal blooms, and freshwater diversions are the main concerns in these estuaries. Caffrey’s study will compare estuary-wide and site-specific estimates of primary production, along with analysis of dissolved oxygen dynamics and factors controlling production. The time-series analyses in estuaries with 10 or more years of data will examine how these systems respond to climate variability and human-influenced stressors.
“Such information feeds directly into top management concerns in systems where nutrient load increases have led to noxious and toxic algal blooms and development of hypoxia (low oxygen), or where removal of limited supplies of fresh water threaten the normal functioning of an estuary,” said Nancy Rabalais, Ph.D., of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.
“The proposal by Jane Caffrey contains especially strong science,” said Walter Boynton, Ph.D., of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. “Her comparative approach is one of the strongest tools ecologists have to explore how estuaries work.” Boynton and Rabalais, along with Merrie Beth Neely, Ph.D., were members of the grant selection committee.