The first phase of the CREST-CISCEP research program was broken into five subprojects. Learn more about the objectives of each project below.
- Subproject 1: Land Use and Climate variability: Effects on nutrient dynamics in the coastal waters
- Subproject 2: Understanding the dynamics of phytoplankton and macroalgae species including HABs in Maryland Coastal Bays
- Subproject 3: Dynamics of Zooplankton community in Maryland Coastal Bays and their driving mechanisms
- Subproject 4: Physiological effects of hypoxia and environmental contaminants on Atlantic croaker in the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays
- Subproject 5: Effects of environmental factors on Blue Crab C. sapidus and its relation to infection by Hematodinium sp.
Subproject 1: Land Use and Climate variability: Effects on Nutrient Dynamics in the Coastal Waters
- Eric May (UMES)
- Ali Ishaque (UMES)
- Albert Chi (UMES)
- Uche Udeochu (UMES)
- Tracie Bishop (UMES)
The goal of this project is to monitor and model spatial patterns in land use, precipitation, and stream discharge, and examine their effects on water quality, particularly nutrient dynamics in the Coastal Bays.
- Analyze land use and land cover data for the Coastal Bays and compare them to historical data,
- Examine the spatiotemporal patterns in water quality and nutrients in the Coastal Bays using data that will be collected in this study and historic water quality data collected by the National Park Service,
- Collect current and historic data on precipitation and river discharge and relate them to land use and spatiotemporal changes in water quality in the Coastal Bays.
- Develop and validate empirical models and algorithms for predicting nutrient dynamics in the Coastal Bays as a function of climate variability. The project will enhance our understanding of nutrient dynamics and effects in the coastal bays of Maryland.
Subproject 2: Understanding the dynamics of phytoplankton and macroalgae species including HABs in Maryland Coastal Bays
- Madhumi Mitra (UMES)
- Paulinus Chigbu (UMES)
- Yan Waguespack (UMES)
- Chunlei Fan (Morgan State University)
The coastal bays of Maryland are valued for their landscape, conservation, and cultural attributes, and also form focal points of human settlement. With the increase in population size associated with urban development in the recent years, increased nutrient enrichment of coastal waters through sewage effluent, and agricultural and urban runoff has been a growing problem.
- To estimate densities of phytoplankton including HAB species in the MCBs in relation to physicochemical conditions, including nutrient types and levels
- To evaluate the influence of variability in climatic factors (and occurrence of ENSO events) on phytoplankton community dynamics in the MCBs using historical data collected by the MD DNR and NPS, and data that will be collected during this study
- To assess temporal and spatial sources (anthropogenic or natural) of nitrogen to macroalgal species causing blooms in order to understand the impact of land-use changes on nutrient enrichment;
- To evaluate the impact of nitrate, phosphate, ammonia, and urea on the growth of the macroalga, Gracilaria tikvahiae under controlled (laboratory) conditions
- To determine the nitrogen uptake rates of NH4+, NO3-, urea, and amino acids by Prorocentrum minimum, and Aureococcus anophagefferens using N-15 isotopes technique, under both natural and laboratory conditions.
Subproject 3: Dynamics of Zooplankton Community in Maryland Coastal Bays and Their Driving Mechanisms
- Paulinus Chigbu (UMES)
- Kam Tang (VIMS)
Zooplankton are important components of the aquatic food webs as they help couple phytoplankton production through grazing activity to production at higher trophic levels. The dynamics of zooplankton community in coastal aquatic ecosystems is a function of many factors including climate variability and anthropogenic activities that contribute to nutrient enrichment, increase phytoplankton productivity, and alter densities of predators and trophic interactions.
- Determine the assemblage/community structure of micro- and mesozooplankton
- Examine mesozooplankton mortality in situ, using a novel staining technique and production under HAB and non-HAB conditions
- Quantify the density and biomass of M. leidyi in the five lagoons of MCBs during spring, summer and fall of each year relative to environmental factors
- Characterize the size distribution of the ctenophores temporally and spatially,
- Examine whether ctenophore abundance and distribution have any influence on zooplankton assemblage/community structure
Subproject 4: Physiological effects of hypoxia and environmental contaminants on Atlantic croaker in the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays
- Andrea K. Johnson (UMES)
- Richard Brill (VIMS/NOAA)
- Mary Fabrizio (VIMS)
This study addresses the question of whether hypoxia and environmental contaminants affect the health of aquatic organisms. Complementary laboratory and estuarine studies are designed to elucidate the effects of hypoxia exposure on immunological, reproductive and endocrine functions in Atlantic croaker ( Micropogonias undulatus), an economically and ecologically important demersal species commonly collected from the hypoxic zone in Chesapeake Bay.
- Determine the effects of hypoxia exposure on immunological, reproductive and endocrine functions of croaker under controlled laboratory conditions
- Determine the persistence (presence/absence over time) of croaker in areas that develop hypoxia in Chesapeake Bay using active acoustic telemetry.
- Compare immunological, reproductive and endocrine biomarker responses in croaker collected from hypoxic and reference sites in the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays
- Integrate observed physiological responses determined in laboratory and field studies to behavioral responses (horizontal and vertical movement) of croaker, and to changes in water quality and other environmental variables (e.g. trace metals, organic compounds, and harmful algal blooms) in the field.
Subproject 5: Effects of Environmental Factors on Blue Crab C. sapidus and its Relation to Infection by Hematodinium sp.
- Joseph Pitula (UMES)
- Doug Ruby (UMES)
- Sook Chung (IMET)
This study focuses on the environmental factors affecting Hematodinium parasite infection levels in blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus). This research will explore these potential factors by combining field studies and laboratory experiments.
- Monitor stress-related gene expression modulation, and
- Correlate stress conditions to parasite proliferation between experimental settings and field studies.