Moss Point, MS, United States
Moss Point, MS, United States

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Ennis B.,University of Southern Mississippi | Ennis B.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission | Peterson M.S.,University of Southern Mississippi | Strange T.P.,Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve | Strange T.P.,Louis Berger Group Inc.
Journal of Coastal Research | Year: 2014

Ennis, B.; Peterson, M.S., and Strange, T.P., 2014. Modeling of inundation characteristics of a microtidal saltmarsh, Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Mississippi. Intertidal saltmarsh habitats are unique productive estuarine systems in that their relative productivity is strongly influenced by the morphology of the landscape and the degree of water inundation. Despite the recognized effect that flooding in saltmarsh intertidal zones has on the natural history of resident fauna and the conservation of the habitat itself, limited data are available with regard to hydrological conditions to conduct proper assessment of these habitats. In this paper we describe a geographic information system-based model that was used to quantify the inundation characteristics of intertidal habitats within the microtidal Crooked Bayou, Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves (GNDNERR), Mississippi, system. Using water levels from a nearby National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tide station, inundation characteristics were generated by the model for multiple sample sites and for plots within each site along a common marsh elevation gradient. The derived characteristics generated by the model were used in a principal components analysis to create factor scores depicting flooding conditions. These factor scores were then used as the means of comparison of cumulative inundation characteristics between sites and the plots within sites. Overall, inundation characteristics were found to vary significantly between sampling sites (Kruskal-Wallis, χ2 = 26.13, p < 0.001) and among the plots (Friedman's, χ2 = 19.27, p < 0.001) across the elevation gradient. In general, although the inundation potential of the sampling plots within each site significantly decreased as the marsh elevation gradient increased, there were marked differences among and within sites because of the considerable microtopography patterns we identified that exemplify the microtidal, low-lying intertidal landscape of GNDNERR. © Coastal Education & Research Foundation 2014.

David A.T.,University of Washington | Simenstad C.A.,University of Washington | Cordell J.R.,University of Washington | Toft J.D.,University of Washington | And 2 more authors.
Estuaries and Coasts | Year: 2015

During the transition of juveniles from fresh water to estuarine and coastal environments, the survival of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) can be strongly size selective and cohort abundance is partly determined at this stage. Because quantity and quality of food influence juvenile salmon growth, high rates of prey and energy acquisition during estuarine residence are important for survival. Human activities may have affected the foraging performance of juvenile salmon in estuaries by reducing the area of wetlands and by altering the abundance of salmon. To improve our understanding of the effects of wetland loss and salmon density on juvenile salmon foraging performance and diet composition in estuaries, we assembled Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) diet and density data from nine US Pacific Northwest estuaries across a gradient of wetland loss. We evaluated the influence of wetland loss and density on juvenile Chinook salmon instantaneous ration and energy ration, two measures of foraging performance, and whether the effect of density varied among estuaries with different levels of wetland loss. We also assessed the influence of wetland loss and other explanatory variables on salmon diet composition. There was no evidence of a direct effect of wetland loss on juvenile salmon foraging performance, but wetland loss appeared to mediate the effect of density on salmon foraging performance and alter salmon diet composition. Specifically, density had no effect on foraging performance in the estuaries with less than 50 % wetland loss but had a negative effect on foraging performance in the estuaries with greater than 50 % wetland loss. These results suggest that habitat loss may interact with density to constrain the foraging performance of juvenile Chinook salmon, and ultimately their growth, during a life history stage when survival can be positively correlated with growth and size. © 2015 Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation

Rush S.A.,University of Georgia | Rush S.A.,University of Windsor | Woodrey M.S.,Mississippi State University | Woodrey M.S.,Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve | Cooper R.J.,University of Georgia
Condor | Year: 2010

To document nest survival and habitat differences in the nesting habitats of Clapper Rails (Rallus longirostis) in tidal marshes of the northern Gulf of Mexico, we monitored 76 active nests within the Pascagoula River Marsh Coastal Preserve (a freshwater-dominated estuary) and the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (a marine-influenced estuary) in coastal Mississippi from 2005 to 2007. During 2006, we measured the height of each Clapper Rail nest, sampled vegetation at active Clapper Rail nests and at random locations, and measured the distance to the nearest tidally influenced body of water and the average height and density of vegetation. Early in the breeding season, the average nest height was lower at the Pascagoula (36 cm) than at Grand Bay (60 cm), but, as the season progressed, nest height increased at the Pascagoula only. Within both estuaries, Clapper Rail nest sites were more structurally complex than at random locations and were associated with a greater diversity of vegetation. Overall, daily survival rates of Clapper Rail nests were relatively high (0.97-0.99), with the majority of nest loss apparently the result of tidal flooding. Our results suggest that where diverse habitat was available, Clapper Rails varied the height of their nests as a mechanism to avoid nest loss from tidal flooding. habitat alteration from factors such as sea-level rise and coastal development may lead to lower nest success because of a loss of diverse nesting habitat. © The Cooper Ornithological Society 2010.

Rush S.A.,University of Windsor | Olin J.A.,University of Windsor | Fisk A.T.,University of Windsor | Woodrey M.S.,Mississippi State University | And 2 more authors.
Estuaries and Coasts | Year: 2010

Much of North America's tidal marsh habitat has been significantly altered by both natural and man-made processes. Thus, there is a need to understand the trophic ecology of organisms endemic to these ecosystems. We applied carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) stable isotope analysis, along with isotope mixing models, to egg yolk, liver, and muscle tissues of clapper rails (Rallus longirostris) and their likely prey items. This analysis enabled us to explore variation in trophic niche and diet composition in this important marsh bird in two northern Gulf of Mexico tidal marshes that are river and ocean-dominated. For the river-associated estuary, δ13C and δ15N of egg yolks, liver, and pectoral muscle tissue samples provided evidence that clapper rails maintained a similar diet during both the winter and the breeding season. A trophic link between C3 primary productivity and the clapper rail's diet was also indicated as the δ13C of clapper rail egg yolks related negatively with the aerial cover of C3 macrophytes. Clapper rails from the ocean-dominated estuary had a narrower trophic niche and appeared to be utilizing marine resources, particularly, based on modeling of liver stable isotope values. Variation in stable isotope values between egg yolk and liver/muscle in both systems suggests that endogenous resources are important for egg production in clapper rails. These results demonstrate that diet composition, prey source, and niche width of clapper rails can vary significantly across different estuaries and appear to be influenced by hydrological conditions. © 2010 Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation.

Woodrey M.S.,Mississippi State University | Woodrey M.S.,Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve | Rush S.A.,University of Windsor | Cherry J.A.,University of Alabama | And 3 more authors.
Wetlands | Year: 2012

Global climate change is expected to significantly affect coastal ecosystems worldwide. For tidal marsh birds of the Gulf of Mexico, the extent of these impacts on future population dynamics is unknown. Here, we present information on our current understanding of marsh bird responses to climate change, identify gaps in that understanding, and propose ways of improving our ability to predict impacts on avian populations. Our understanding of how Gulf Coast avian populations will respond to environmental drivers such as sea-level rise, precipitation patterns, and hurricanes is limited, and detailed local and regional studies linking avian biology to wetland processes are needed. Impacts of wetland change on marsh bird species will be optimally assessed and forecasted within an adaptive framework, making use of process-driven studies that include models designed to elucidate patterns in avian biology and wetland dynamics. Further, because management and conservation efforts are implemented at local or site-specific scales, we recommend that process-driven studies incorporate hierarchical structures, nesting local efforts within a regional context. Implementing this research program will prove fundamental in furthering our understanding of avian population dynamics within the changing Gulf of Mexico environment. © Society of Wetland Scientists 2011.

Caffrey J.M.,University of West Florida | Murrell M.C.,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency | Amacker K.S.,University of West Florida | Harper J.W.,Apalachicola Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve | And 3 more authors.
Estuaries and Coasts | Year: 2014

Measurements of primary production and respiration provide fundamental information about the trophic status of aquatic ecosystems, yet such measurements are logistically difficult and expensive to sustain as part of long-term monitoring programs. However, ecosystem metabolism parameters can be inferred from high frequency water quality data collections using autonomous logging instruments. For this study, we analyzed such time series datasets from three Gulf of Mexico estuaries: Grand Bay, MS; Weeks Bay, AL; and Apalachicola Bay, FL. Data were acquired from NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserve System Wide Monitoring Program and used to calculate gross primary production (GPP), ecosystem respiration (ER), and net ecosystem metabolism (NEM) using Odum's open water method. The three systems represent a diversity of estuaries typical of the Gulf of Mexico region, varying by as much as two orders of magnitude in key physical characteristics, such as estuarine area, watershed area, freshwater flow, and nutrient loading. In all three systems, GPP and ER displayed strong seasonality, peaking in summer and being lowest during winter. Peak rates of GPP and ER exceeded 200 mmol O2 m-2 day-1 in all three estuaries. To our knowledge, this is the first study examining long-term trends in rates of GPP, ER, and NEM in estuaries. Variability in metabolism tended to be small among sites within each estuary. Nitrogen loading was highest in Weeks Bay, almost two times greater than that in Apalachicola Bay and 35 times greater than to Grand Bay. These differences in nitrogen loading were reflected in average annual GPP rates, which ranged from 825 g C m-2 year-1 in Weeks Bay to 401 g C m-2 year-1 for Apalachicola Bay and 377 g C m-2 year-1 in Grand Bay. Despite the strong inter-annual patterns in freshwater flow and salinity, variability in metabolic rates was low, perhaps reflecting shifts in the relative importance of benthic and phytoplankton productivity, during different flow regimes. The advantage of the open water method is that it uses readily available and cost-effective sonde monitoring technology to estimate these fundamental estuarine processes, thus providing a potential means for examining long-term trends in net carbon balance. It also provides a historical benchmark for comparison to ongoing and future monitoring focused on documenting the effect of human activities on the coastal zone. © 2013 The Author(s).

Flitcroft R.L.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Bottom D.L.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Haberman K.L.,Western Oregon University | Bierly K.F.,Bierly & Associates | And 7 more authors.
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems | Year: 2016

Protection of places important for aesthetic, ecological, and cultural values has been a goal of conservationists for over 150 years. Cornerstones of place-based conservation include legal designations, international agreements, and purchase by public or non-profit organizations. In the Salmon River catchment, Oregon, protections were initially developed in the 1930s for the freshwater riparian corridor and forestry research in the uplands. Over time, additional protections in the estuary and nearshore marine environments were added, motivated by local desire to protect and restore habitats and fish populations. Removal of three levees in the Salmon River estuary occurred over three consecutive 9-year time-steps, and provided the opportunity for research on tidal marsh recovery in the framework of a space-for-time chrono-series. Elevation, channel morphology, and vegetation all exhibited trajectories toward reference conditions. Fish and macroinvertebrates also served as indicators of tidal marsh recovery, although their recovery patterns were not strictly related to the chrono-series trajectories. The extent of restoration provided a novel opportunity to measure a significant response of biotic indicators at the site and catchment scales. Salt marsh restoration augmented protected freshwater habitats by expanding rearing habitats for juvenile salmonids and increasing expression of life-history diversity for both Chinook and coho salmon. This finding highlights linkages between freshwater and marine habitats and populations, and has the potential to influence important policy advances and changes in management of Pacific salmon. Restoration promoted collaborations among stakeholders, community involvement, and inspiring educational opportunities that enabled more comprehensive research than any single sponsor could have accomplished. Protected status designations have fostered a wealth of opportunities that were not specifically envisioned when the protections were first put in place. In particular, dedicated scientific investigation of landscape-scale change did not occur by design, but was pieced together as funding opportunities arose over time. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Rush S.A.,University of Georgia | Mordecai R.,University of Georgia | Woodrey M.S.,Mississippi State University | Woodrey M.S.,Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve | Cooper R.J.,University of Georgia
Waterbirds | Year: 2010

Loss and modification of tidal marsh habitat has contributed to the decline of marsh bird species. For many marsh birds that inhabit tidal ecosystems, little information exists on habitat use, particularly in relation to movement and response to prey availability. In this study, radio-telemetry was used to investigate home range size, movement patterns and response of Clapper Rails (Rallus longirostris) to prey availability within tidal marshes in coastal Mississippi. Mean fixed kernel 95% home range for breeding Clapper Rails was 1.37 ha ± SE 0.27 (N = 10 birds) with a 50% core use area 0.32 ha ± SE 0.07 (N = 10 birds), which are estimates similar to those obtained throughout this species' range. The extent of Clapper Rail movements during the incubation period was negatively correlated with density of fiddler crab burrows within 50 m of nest sites. Clapper Rails' use of marsh edge decreased relative to tidal height. Use of this habitat type may have been further restricted during the first few weeks of the parental-care period when adults were caring for recently fledged young. Collectively these results illustrate the importance of edge and interior marsh habitats and may provide an explanation for the variation in Clapper Rail densities found within and between tidal marsh systems.

Linhoss A.C.,Mississippi State University | Underwood W.V.,Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Journal of Coastal Research | Year: 2016

Salt pannes are an ecologically important but poorly understood feature of the salt marsh environments. Like all coastal marshes, salt pannes are threatened by sea-level rise; therefore, it is important to assess how they will be affected by rising seas. Because of a lack of understanding regarding salt panne formation and the possibly stochastic nature of their development, a traditional and purely deterministic modeling approach is unsuitable for assessing the impacts of sea-level rise on salt pannes. This research used a combination of deterministic and stochastic models to simulate the land-cover suitability for salt pannes in the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Mississippi, under five sea-level rise scenarios, including a rise of 0.25, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 m by 2100. The Sea-Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) simulated general land-cover at the study site. However, SLAMM does not include capabilities for specifically simulating salt panne land-cover. As such, MaxEnt used the results from SLAMM, along with other environmental variables, to specifically simulate the spatial suitability for salt panne land-cover. The results showed that the total wetland and upland areas are predicted to consistently decrease under increasing rates of sea-level rise. However, because of elevation plateaus in the study site, the area of land-cover specifically suitable for salt pannes does not follow the same pattern. The primary environmental driver of salt panne land-cover suitability is elevation, followed by topographic depressional areas. Land cover contributes very little to the model results. This novel use of a land-cover suitability model has important potential for being applied to additional studies to investigate drivers of land-cover change, identify transitional areas, and examine land-cover fitness under competition. © Coastal Education and Research Foundation, Inc. 2016.

Lehmicke A.J.J.,University of Georgia | Berry B.E.,University of Georgia | Shamblin B.M.,University of Georgia | Lennon D.M.,University of Georgia | And 4 more authors.
Conservation Genetics Resources | Year: 2012

The seaside sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus; SESP) includes seven extant subspecies ranging from the northeastern coast of the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Genetic diversity of SESP may be impacted since coastal marsh habitats are highly fragmented, thereby limiting gene flow among adjacent populations. Genetic analysis of SESP populations will provide insight for development of conservation and management strategies for the species. We describe development and characterization of 11 novel microsatellite markers for SESP. These loci will be useful for individual identification as well as studies of fine-scale genetic relatedness within populations and subspecies of SESP. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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