Hypoxia (< 2 mg O2 L-1) has been reported with increasing frequency from a variety of coastal and estuarine ecosystems. Hypoxia develops as a result of complex interactions of physical and biological processes, which often cannot be fully understood through observations alone. Numerical models are an important research tool that can be applied to understand the processes that determine the spatial and temporal variations in hypoxia. This session is devoted to diverse modeling approaches, including mechanisms controlling hypoxia development, anthropogenic and climatic influences on hypoxia, and the ecological effects of hypoxia on regional ecosystems. Studies may focus on processes or prediction of hypoxia, causes or effects of hypoxia, physics or fish. Applicable models range from purely empirical to complex three-dimensional models.
Ecological risk assessment, which includes an understanding of the potential for establishment, spread, and impact of nonindigenous species, provides a tool used by scientists and managers to respond to current invasions and predict future invasions. In this session, investigators utilize science, economics, and risk assessment to address ecological and/or economic impacts of current and future aquatic species invasions, quantify major uncertainties and ways to reduce uncertainty, and identify methodologies that relate to cost-effective management of nonindigenous species. We suggest that these integrative approaches to nonindigenous species risk assessment will further enhance our understanding of the ecology of species invasions, and improve methods of identifying and managing invasive species. Presentations and posters should address risk assessment and/or impacts of nonindigenous aquatic species. A wide variety of analyses and applications will be considered.
Conveners:John Lehrter, EPA Gulf Ecology Division, firstname.lastname@example.org; Katja Fennel, Dalhousie University, email@example.com; Wally Fulweiler, Boston University, firstname.lastname@example.org; Roxane Maranger, University of Montreal, email@example.com
Human impacts to aquatic ecosystems often manifest at the sediment-water interface. Local and regional scale issues such as eutrophication, sedimentation and resuspension of inorganic and organic particles, toxic pollution, and over-fishing can have dramatic effects on benthic biological communities (ranging from microbial organisms to mega fauna) and induce feedbacks to the water column by altering biogeochemical processes. Recently, there is increasing awareness of compounding effects by global scale phenomena such as rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification. However, despite advancements in the theory, observation, and modeling of communities and biogeochemical processes at the sediment-water interface that have occurred over the last several decades, many regulating mechanisms are still poorly characterized. Hence, our ability to accurately predict and mitigate the impacts of human activities is hindered. This session invites investigators to present and discuss recent observational or modeling studies that add to our understanding of processes at the sediment-water interface. Presentations that integrate or synthesize across multiple spatial and temporal scales or levels of functional organization, genes to ecosystems, are encouraged. Non-research presentations that provide environmental policy perspectives and challenges, which may inform knowledge gaps and research needs, are also encouraged.
Emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, flame retardants, natural plant products, and pesticides have been documented to be present at low levels in many aquatic environments worldwide. This session will involve presentations that describe the variation in the presence and distribution of these chemicals in the aquatic environment, and the impact different emerging contaminants may have on aquatic organisms, communities and ecosystems.
The Gulf of Mexico and Alaskan Arctic are currently the OCS areas of greatest oil and gas (O&G) development interest. Each area presents policy and scientific challenges, which has created the need for policies and scientific information to support continued deep water leasing, while providing adequate assurances of safety and environmental protection. Specific issues of concern in the Gulf of Mexico relate to spill response and containment capabilities in deep water, as well as the resilience of the Gulf ecosystem to perturbations from additional oil spills. Arctic concerns relate to the potential effects of OCS development on subsistence uses and ecosystem resources, and their potential interaction with ongoing climate change in the Arctic. This session will provide an overview of the current federal regulatory frameworks for OCS O&G development, a description of existing environmental protections, and an overview of risks to ecosystems associated with O&G development. We encourage submissions that discuss regulatory or scientific aspects of O&G development on the OCS. In particular, we seek submissions pertaining to the interaction between climate change and O&G development, oil spill cleanup in extreme environments, long-term monitoring of ecological impacts from O&G developments, and examples of how basic research on the OCS have allowed the effective integration of science and environmental protection.
Conveners:Amanda W.J. Demopoulos, Ph.D., US Geological Survey, Southeast Ecological Science Center, firstname.lastname@example.org; Erik E. Cordes, Ph.D., Temple University, email@example.com; Helen K. White, Ph.D., Haverford College, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill brought renewed attention to the diverse and complex communities of the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). In light of the documented impacts of the spill, recent focus has shifted towards restoration. The science of restoration in the GoM varies considerably according to habitat; for example, nearshore salt marshes require a different approach compared to offshore waters and the deep-sea. In addition, restoration may include rebuilding some habitats as well as preserving others from future disturbances. Given that the DWH oil spill was implicated in detrimental impacts to a wide variety of GoM habitats, and that we are still learning the extent of these impacts, the time is right to conduct and gather the relevant research needed to develop effective restoration plans. This session will target NGOs, government and academic researchers, and resource managers involved in using the latest scientific research and theory to design marine protected areas and reserves. Discussions will include identifying the challenges and obstacles associated with restoration in the nearshore, offshore and deep-sea. Basic questions addressed by this session will include: What does restoration mean in the various impacted habitats? What ongoing research can inform these efforts? Who are the stakeholders? What have we learned from restoration activities to date? What are the long-term goals for restoration activities?
More than two decades ago, researchers noted the expansion of harmful algal blooms (HABs) across the globe. Since that time, the frequency, intensity, diversity, and impacts of HABs in both freshwater and marine ecosystems have all continued to increase. Concurrently, our ability to assess the molecular and biochemical status of HABs and co-occurring microbes has improved significantly as has our ability to detect HABs and their toxins. This session seeks to bring together researchers of HABs in multiple ecosystems (e.g. estuaries, lakes, coastal ocean) that use a diversity of approaches (molecular, experimental, field, laboratory) to assess the sundry biological, chemical, and physical factors that facilitate the onset and demise of HAB events. Studies including, but not limited to, assessments of regulators of algal growth such as nutrients, carbon dioxide, temperature, light, and cyst emergence, as well as morality processes such as zooplankton grazing, viral lysis, allelopathy, grazing by bivalves, and physical dispersion are welcome. Investigations that consider both harmful algae and co-occurring phytoplankton and/or microbes are also encouraged.
Increasing atmospheric CO2 is leading to higher global temperatures and acidification of the surface ocean, and there is speculation that these changes may affect the initiation, frequency and severity of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). For example, long term shifts in terrestrial runoff and coastal water conditions may be more conducive to high biomass and hypoxia related HAB events, while greater stratification and ocean acidification might increase the relative proportions of toxic and fish-killing HAB species within phytoplankton communities. Even so, the purported relationships between climate change and HABs are founded on limited and often conflicting experimental data. We invite papers that focus on emerging toxic and ecosystem disruptive HAB events as well as changing plankton assemblages that are evolving towards more frequent or intense HAB incidents. We particularly invite papers addressing long-term time series data, land use changes, effects of macro- or micro-nutrient stress on cell physiology, trophic interactions, and the impacts of changing riverine runoff, ocean development (e.g., aquaculture, wind turbines), and ocean acidification. The goal of the session is to formulate a better understanding of factors enhancing the success of HAB species in the context of climate change.
Conveners:Ken O. Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, email@example.com; Margaret L. Estapa, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, firstname.lastname@example.org; David A. Siegel, University of California, Santa Barbara, email@example.com
Physical motions associated with submesoscale flows have many important implications for upper ocean planktonic communities and resulting biogeochemical fluxes. For example, upward submesoscale motions can inject nutrients into the euphotic zone, while downward motions can aggregate particles and export them from the euphotic zone. Observations of submesoscale features have largely come from ocean circulation model output or using appropriate satellite data products, and show that submesoscale features are ubiquitous. However, field results linking ocean biogeochemistry to submesoscale flows have lagged numerical experiments. This session brings together studies of submesoscale motions and how they might impact ecological communities, productivity, export and even foraging by higher trophic level species. Such studies may use modeling, remote sensing, sensors on floats, moorings and AUVs, high resolution in-situ sampling and lab experiments to study ocean ecological and biogeochemical processes that are only seen at smaller scales (<10 km). Sites of convergence and divergence that occur on smaller scales will also affect oceanic distributions of plastics, oil spills and other passive tracers, and evidence of these impacts would also be appropriate in this session.
In recent decades, Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) have expanded geographically, increased in duration and intensity, and resulted in escalated economic costs worldwide. HABs are a major threat to coastal economies because they negatively affect human and ecosystem health, coastal water quality, fisheries and recreation. As scientists continue to unravel the unique drivers and controls of blooms, research programs must be integrated with environmental management, education, and outreach efforts to develop strategies that protect public and resource health. In the last decade, there have been many examples of beneficial interactions between researchers, environmental agencies, industries and the public. For example, collaborations between researchers, aquaculture industries, coastal managers and citizen groups have been particularly successful in protecting public health from HABs while also promoting economic growth. It is promising that such cross-disciplinary collaborations continue to grow, yielding creative solutions to the challenges that HABs create. In this session, we invite presentations of case studies that highlight new or existing collaborations between research and non-research groups that hold a stake in HAB research, including scientists, regulatory agencies, public health groups, decision-makers, private stakeholders, and the public. This forum will provide an environment to foster such synergistic strategies.
Nitrogen, phosphorus, and silica are key macronutrients regulating primary productivity in marine basins. High loads of nitrogen and phosphorus in river, agricultural, municipal, and industrial runoff are recognized as key ingredients for steering the extent of eutrophication in coastal systems, which carries undesirable secondary effects such as harmful algal blooms and coastal anoxia. The need for catchment-scale reduction measures has been agreed to at the international level, but the realization of these reduction measures requires concerted political and often expensive actions at the local level, where investments will be critically evaluated for their efficiency. Two key questions remain at the heart of implementing and assessing the effect of nutrient reduction measures: the overall net nitrogen loss potential via denitrification and anammox and the degree of internal loading of phosphorus that is recycled from anoxic marine sediment. Progress remains to be made in understanding microbial regulatory processes in the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, and the temporal and spatial variability of these processes. This session will bring together scientists studying mass balances and fluxes of key dissolved nutrients in eutrophied coastal systems and marginal seas through observational and modeling approaches. We invite contributions that use stable isotope mass balances, tracer experiments, modeling approaches, and results from monitoring programs to obtain an integrated view of our recent understanding of coastal and marginal basin nutrient budgets and their temporal and spatial variability.