These research projects address priority issues affecting Florida’s oceans and coasts. Projects are done in collaboration with the private sector, local governments, or with resource management agencies.
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Accessing Florida’s Coast
Climate Change/Coastal Planning
Healthy Oceans and Coasts
Coastal Partnership Initiative
Developing technologies to expand the supply of emerging marine finfish fingerlings for commercial offshore aquaculture systems. Kevan Main, Mote Marine Laboratory. Aquaculture is the fastest growing food-producing sector in the world, yet North America produces only about 1.5 percent of the total world seafood production. A number of high-value marine fish, such as Alamo jack, are needed to meet seafood market demands; however culture techniques have been developed for very few of these species. This project will address improvements in captive maturation, spawning, health management and larval rearing for Alammo jack. R/LR-A-55
Manipulating microbes to improve aquaculture efficiency. Andrea Larsen, Mote Marine Laboratory. Bacterial management issues cause mass mortality in fish aquaculture creating economic losses for the seafood and aquarium trade and affecting the success of stock enhancement efforts. This project will test naturally occurring probiotics for the aquaculture industry to reduce current survival bottlenecks with guidance from an advisory board of industry partners. R/LR-A-54
Application on triploidy to an emergent oyster culture industry on the west coast of Florida. Leslie Sturmer, University of Florida. Florida’s shellfish aquaculture industry would benefit from new oyster products that can survive or thrive under warming water conditions. This project intends to support the diversification of Florida’s shellfish aquaculture industry by evaluating the commercial viability and production performance of triploid oysters with industry partners under various environmental conditions. R/LR-A-53
Revitalizing the Hard Clam Aquaculture Industry in the Southeastern U.S. through Transferring Technology on Sunray Venus Clam, Macrocallista nimbosa, Production. Leslie Sturmer and LeRoy Creswell, University of Florida. This project aims to advance the production and distribution of a promising new aquaculture species, the sunray venus clam through large-scale demonstration, education and hands-on training. By facilitating technology transfer to seed suppliers, growers and wholesalers, revitalization of an industry that is currently based exclusively on one bivalve species will be achieved. R-LR-A-51
Monitoring, Predicting, and Managing the Environmental Impacts of Offshore Aquaculture in the United States. Daniel Benetti, University of Miami. While there have been excellent models developed to predict the effects of aquaculture on a local scale, there has been no attempt to model the impacts of large-scale open-ocean aquaculture on an ecosystem or regional basis. Investigators will determine how nutrients exported from open-ocean aquaculture travel through the water column/food web. R-LR-A-50
Evaluation of Rapid Brevetoxin Tests for Use in Shellfish Regulation, the Shellfish Industry and Aquaculture. Leanne Flewelling, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. When Florida waters experience red tides, which are caused by the brevetoxin-producing Karina brevis,shellfish farmers suffer economic losses due to closures of harvesting areas. These closures often[H1] are prolonged unnecessarily due to inefficient Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning (NSP) testing methods. This project will assess and validate a rapid method for measuring NSP toxicity in bivalves to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of testing. The goal is to provide agencies with a tool that will let them achieve more appropriate durations of closure for shellfish farms. R/LR-Q-35
Sustainable Production of Marine Fish and Sea Vegetables in a Marine Aquaponics System. Kevan Main, Mote Marine Laboratory. The goal of this project is develop a small-scale marine aquaponics system based on the established technology for freshwater aquaponics to provide expanded production of marine fish and sea vegetables in Florida. In addition, solid fish waste produced by the aquaponics system will be used to fertilize wetland plants for coastal restoration projects. The wetland plants will be produced by an established habitat and restoration company with nursery operations in Myakka City and at Mote Aquaculture Research Park. R/LR-A-52
Engaging the Marine Industry in Establishment of Transferable Protocols to Characterize, Evaluate, and Promote Anchorages as Components of an Interconnected Waterway Transportation Infrastructure. Bob Swett, University of Florida. Following a decline in boating that coincided with the economic downturn, Florida’s boating industry is headed toward recovery. However, boater educational products are out of date and monitoring has declined since the earlier programs was created. This project, done in collaboration with the Southwest Florida Marine Industry Association, will establish transferable protocols, schedules and mechanisms to manage and promote anchorages as components of an interconnected waterway transportation network. PD-14-13
A Quantitative Framework to Evaluate Vessel Collision Risk for Marine Mammals in Florida. Julien Martin, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The establishment of protection zones, which regulate the speed and operation of boats, is viewed as a primary management action to protect marine mammals. This project will develop and apply a quantitative approach to evaluate vessel collision risk for manatees and North Atlantic right whales in Florida. These models will quantify the link between speed regulations and marine mammal injury and mortality. R/LR-B-67
Assisting Communities Plan and Manage Their Working Waterfronts and Waterways: The Boating and Waterway Planning Program. Robert Swett, University of Florida. This project will use research, extension and educational activities to assist local communities in developing science-based methods to support and improve waterway use planning, management and decision-making. The project will also help foster interagency communication and cooperation at local, regional state and national levels. R/C-P-43
A Spatial-Temporal Econometric Model to Estimate Costs and Benefits of Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Strategies. Zhong-Ren Peng and Kathryn Frank, University of Florida. This collaborative project with Hillsborough County will develop an economic model to quantify the costs and benefits of different adaptation strategies to sea-level rise, with Hillsborough County serving as the case study.R/C-S-51
An Integrated Climate Change Impact Assessment Tool for Flooding of the Lower St. Johns River. Dingbao Wang, University of Central Florida; Steven Bratos, United States Army Corps of Engineers. This research, in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, will produce a geospatial information tool that can be used by coastal resource managers for evaluating different adaptation strategies to climate change and floods. R/C-S-54
Reimagining the form of rural coastal communities in response to sea level rise. Kathryn Frank, University of Florida. This project will develop an integrated and interactive process of sea level rise adaptation planning and design that provides a foundation for specific planning products and tools. These tools will be tailored and tested for small town and rural coastal communities. The pilot community is Cedar Key, Fla., but the lessons learned in the setting may be useful for other rural areas. R-CS-57
Coupling Risk and Resilience Assessment for Networked Sustainable Drainage Systems in a Coastal City under Climate Change Impact. Ni-Bin Chang, University of Central Florida. This project is assisting Pinellas County’s Government to implement a new resilient storm-water system in the Cross Bayou Watershed. The plan is to incorporate new low impact development controls and flood proofing technologies to harmonize existing storm sewer systems under climate change and sea-level rise scenarios. R-CS-58
A Rapid Forecasting System for Storm Surge and Coastal Inundation Including Effects of Sea Level Rise. Peter Sheng, University of Florida. This project is integrating a rapid storm surge modelling system (CH3D) within a new web-browser-based platform so that coastal communities in Florida can visualize flooding impacts and plan for hurricane storm surge under various sea-level rise scenarios. R-CS-59
Novel application of galvanic fields to reduce shark bycatch in various fisheries. Stephen Kajiura, Florida Atlantic University. Bycatch mortality in pelagic and coastal fisheries has been identified as one of the primary factors contributing to declines in shark populations. Shark bycatch also imposes a significant economic burden on commercial fishermen because bycatch species occupy hooks that could be used for target species. In addition, sharks bite off and damage gear adding material and time costs for removal and repair. This project will test a patent-pending method of creating bio-electric fields around hooks by galvanizing zinc and graphite to repel sharks and other bycatch, thereby, increasing the efficiency and profitability of commercial fishing. R/LR-G-5
Impacts of stock spatial structure and connectivity on the stock assessment and management of Caribbean spiny lobster stocks. Yuying Zhang, Florida International University. Caribbean spiny lobster stock assessment models consider the target spiny lobster stock as a discrete group. Spatial structures within the stock are ignored by assuming the population within each stock is well-mixed, and every individual is subject to experience the same life history.This project will evaluate a new method of assessment that considers the effects of spatial structure and connectivity on the stock of Caribbean spiny lobster as input to management of the fishery. R/LR-B-74
Implementation of Barotrauma Media Tours to Expand Sea Grant Outreach Efforts with Florida Recreational Anglers. Bryan Fluech, Lisa Krimsky and Betty Staugler, University of Florida. This project will conduct a series of regional barotrauma media tours, coordinated by Florida Sea Gant agents. Local charter captains and Florida Sea Grant agents will demonstrate the use of techniques and products to safely return barotrauma-stricken reef fish to depth in a series of live field tests with journalists associated with the Florida Outdoor Writers Association. Writers will be expected to use the experience as an opportunity to write a story about barotrauma and options available to anglers to release fish when fishing in deep waters. Stories will be published in media outlets that are directed towards recreational anglers. PD-14-18
Evaluating Management of Lionfish on the West Florida Shelf. Mike Allen, University of Florida. This project will implement a two-week hands-on training with stakeholders to demonstrate the use of a new modelling technique designed using the EcoPath with EcoSym platform to determine the most effective strategies for managing invasive lionfish on the West Florida Shelf. PD-14-19
Investigating Horizontal and Vertical Movement Behavior of the Shortfin Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) in the Western North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Mahmood Shivjy, The Guy Harvey Research Institute. This project aims to improve understanding of mako shark habitat use and migratory patterns, both in horizontal and vertical spatial dimensions by deploying additional satellite tags on mako sharks captured in various locations. The results of the project will show whether sea surface temperature and other environmental factors are likely drivers of mako migrations. Additionally, the project will determine if mako sharks in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean form independent populations from mako sharks in the Atlantic ocean. R-LR-B-73
Restoration Research in Apalachicola Bay: Oyster Substrate and Density Sampling. Andrew Kane, University of Florida. This project addresses several important issues paramount to optimizing sustainable restoration efforts in Apalachicola Bay. Specifically, this project will identify historically-productive oyster reefs that could most benefit from focused restoration efforts and develop oyster density and size distribution measurement tools that can better facilitate management efforts to monitor restoration outcomes and oyster productivity. R-LR-B-72
Developing a size-structured stock assessment model for the spiny lobster, Panulirus argus,in the southeast United States. Yuying Zhang, Florida International University. This project is designed to develop a new size-structured model to better quantify the dynamics of the spiny lobster stock in the southeast United States and better assess its status. Various drivers will be evaluated to determine the growth patterns, including physiological constraints and environmental factors. R-LR-B-69
South Florida/Bahimian Ecoregion Policy Support and Exchange. Tom Ankersen, University of Florida. Because South Florida and the Bahamas lie within the same marine ecoregion, this project will develop and deepen institutional relationships between marine and coastal managers, lawyers and policymakers and marine extension professionals in South Florida and the Bahamas. The outcome of these relationships will help address issues of mutual concern in the shared waters, such as fisheries management and enhancement, vessel grounding and the planning of marine managed areas. PD-14-10
Development of a Tool to Screen Oyster Management Plans Resilient to Changes in Freshwater Flows: A Test in Apalachicola Bay. Bill Pine, University of Florida. This project will develop a linked hydrodynamic and oyster population model to screen policy options related to managing oyster resources in coastal ecosystems. The model could support the management of populations that are susceptible to changes in freshwater flow from recurring droughts or water allocation decisions, such as the Apalachicola Bay. The project’s goal is to inform planned and ongoing restoration programs for degraded oyster bars and provide guidance on developing fisheries management policy options that are adaptable to changes in freshwater flow, promoting fisheries resilience. R/LR-B-68
Fisheries Forums: Crafting Processes and Tools to Enable Place-Based Cooperative Governance of Florida’s Saltwater Fisheries. Kai Lorenzon, University of Florida. This project will facilitate cooperative, place-based governance of Florida’s saltwater recreational fisheries by crafting fisheries forums: a framework of structures, processes and tools that will allow stakeholders to engage constructively in identifying and addressing local and regional fisheries management issues. The research will provide innovative approaches to affect decisions that can sustain coastal resources as well as new models and tools to more sustainably manage marine fisheries. R/LR-B-71
Returning Ecological Function to Hard-bottom Regions in the Florida Keys through Sponge Restoration and its Importance for an Essential Fish Habitat. Don Behringer, University of Florida. Sponge dominated hard-bottom communities have been decimated in Florida Bay and the Florida Keys due to infrequent but intense cyanobacteria blooms. Natural recovery of sponge communities has been slow and may benefit from active restoration. This project will assess the practicality and benefits of restoring hard-bottom sponge communities in order to maintain ecosystem biodiversity and provide essential habitat for juvenile and adult fish, macroinvertebrates and sea turtles in the Florida Keys. R/LR-B-76
Spatial Ecological Modeling of the Gulf of Mexico Supporting an Integrated Ecosystem Assessment. Cameron Ainsworth, University of South Florida. This project is developing a spatial food-web model using the Atlantis simulation framework to support ecosystem-based fishery management efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. The model will use stock assessments, fisheries independent surveys, and geospatial data on habitat, species distributions, and human-use patterns to provide a synoptic view of marine ecosystem function.
Fishing Down an Invasive Species: Determining the Effort Necessary to Reduce Local Lionfish Population and Mitigate Their Effects. Chris Stallings, University of South Florida; Mark Albins, Auburn University; Craig Layman, Florida International University. This project is attempting to identify the most efficient and cost-effective methods to fish down lionfish numbers so native fish populations can recover and stabilize. Researchers will use volunteer spear divers to capture lionfish at different frequency rates from five selected areas off southeast Florida, while monitoring changes in the numbers of prey-sized native fishes. R-LR-B-66H
Assessing the Effectiveness of Dedicated Lionfish Removals for Restoration of Ecological Function. Richard Appeldoorn, University of Puerto Rico; Matthew Craig, MTC Associates. This project will evaluate the effectiveness of using divers and snorkelers competing in fishing derbies and rodeos to reduce lionfish numbers in Puerto Rico. Lionfish derbies have become popular social events across the Caribbean and South Florida that help raise public awareness about the lionfish problem, but there are no precise results that help resource managers determine if they are effective for small-scale control under a variety of conditions. R-LR-B-66G
Developing Practical Removal Techniques for Lionfish Control. Lad Akins, REEF. Researchers will try to determine which is the most effective of three lionfish removal techniques – derbies, traps, or continuous removal. The Reef Environmental Education Foundation, known as REEF, will compare and contrast results from among the three on coral reefs in selected locations in South Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands.R/LR-B-66F
The Effects of Projected Sea-Level Rise on Everglades Coastal Ecosystems: Evaluating the Potential For and Mechanisms of Peat Collapse Using Integrated Mesocosm and Field Manipulations. Tiffany Troxler, Florida International University. This project will use small and large-scale experimental manipulations of salinity to evaluate the potential effects of sea level rise on the degradation of Everglades peat soils. The results will be used to guide water management options that could slow the rate of peat collapse by hydrating susceptible areas – while at the same time, not using more water than is necessary to achieve that outcome. R/C-S-56
An Integrative Assessment of Estuarine Impacts on Coral Health: A Case Study in South Florida. Joshua Voss, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University. This project will determine the effects of freshwater discharges on coral health with the goal of improving resource management and conservation strategies in South Florida. R/LR-B-70
ADAPT: Adaptation Design and Planning Tool for Urban Areas in the Coastal Zone. Jeffrey Huber, Florida Atlantic University. South Florida cities are increasingly recognizing that man-made armoring of the coast is a short-term solution to address community vulnerabilities from sea level rise. This project will produce a resilient coastal urbanism tool called ADaPT (Adaptation Design and Planning Tool) to addresses opportunities for low impact development and green infrastructure technologies at lot, street and neighborhood scales. This will result in a manual that offers a design framework for adaptation action areas at appropriate scales for coastal community land-use planning, with a pilot application for the City of Ft. Lauderdale. R/C-S-61
The effects of projected sea-level rise on Everglades coastal ecosystems: enhancing and continuing experiments to evaluate peat collapse and landscape stability. Tiffany Troxler, Florida International University. In south Florida, conversion of vegetated coastal communities to open water through the process of peat collapse in the Everglades will not only impact habitats that support vulnerable rare and endemic species, but will also increase risk of storm impacts to groundwater supplies and communities. This project will develop a decision-tool for use by the South Florida Water Management District to evaluate future impacts of sea-level rise and associated saltwater intrusion on Everglades peat soils, crucial for coastal freshwater management in the highly urbanized south Florida region. R/C-S-60
Characterization and modeling of the damage caused by hurricane induced water penetration in coastal buildings, and subsequent risk evaluation. Jean-Paul Pinelli, Florida Institute of Technology. Catastrophic hurricane losses are the largest and most pervasive risk facing Florida’s coastal communities. Much of the loss itemized in insurance claims is attributed to damage to interior components including insulation, drywall, electrical systems, appliances and flooring. This project will use a new “Wall of Wind” facility at Florida International University to quantify interior loss from wind and water penetration. The data will be used to update risk models used by the insurance industry’s Florida Public Hurricane Loss Model to more accurately evaluate risk and set community and homeowner premiums. R/C-S-59
Effectiveness of a Smartphone-based decision support system to stimulate hurricane damage mitigation among homeowners in Coastal Hillsborough County, FL communities. David Prevatt, University of Florida. A critical issue for mitigating future hurricane losses lies not only in developing better engineering solutions, but also in increasing public adoption and application of existing solutions to make their homes more hurricane-proof. To address a public outreach need, this project will refine and test the effectiveness of a new smartphone application as a decision aid for overcoming barriers to mitigation adaptation. R/C-D-23
From the Bottom Up: Implementing Resiliency at the Local Government Level Through Data-Driven Analyses and Community Engagement. Jason Evans, Stetson University. Resiliency planning in many Florida coastal communities has reached a bottleneck in terms of developing local geospatial data to a resolution and standard required for decision-making and confident municipal investment. This project will work with Satellite Beach to integrate high-resolution date into FEMA’s HAZUS tool as input to a community planning process to improve the city’s credits under the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System. R/C-S-62
Repairing Failed Asphalt Shingle Tab Seals to Mitigate Roof Cover Damage in High Winds. David Prevatt, University of Florida. Research has shown that a large percentage of the hurricane damage to residential homes in Florida is due to roof shingles that have become unsealed because of natural aging. This project, which is being done as a university-private sector partnership, will develop, validate and promote a repair method for unsealed asphalt roof shingles. R/C-D-22
State and Local Policy Innovation and Implementation for Coastal Communities. Tom Ankersen, University of Florida. This project will provide continuing legal and policy assistance to coastal zone stakeholders in order to enhance coastal access, revitalize coastal communities, protect ecosystem health and address coastal change through hazard mitigation and adaptation. This policy and legal assistance will be provided in four different areas: recreational and commercial working waterfronts, boating and waterway management, coastal change and protection of watersheds. R/C-P-42
Promoting Preventative Mitigations of Buildings against Hurricanes through Enhanced Risk-Assessment and Decision-Making. Sungmoon Jung, Florida State University. This project is working with the insurance industry to improve the accuracy of hurricane risk models, which are used to determine insurance rates for Florida’s coastal communities and homeowners. R-CS-60
Royal Palm Natural Area. City of Oakland Park, Broward County. This project creates passive recreational space at the Royal Palm Natural Area, a coastal land parcel owned by the City and the Broward County School Board. It will provide trail use, educational opportunities and environmental improvements. The project provides a unique natural area within a built-up, densely populated area on the coast. The project includes removal of exotic plants, native planting along the shoreline, a permeable hiking trail and a 300-foot wood boardwalk to provide hiking in a wetland area with views of the water. Interpretative signage will be installed to educate trail users about plant and wildlife species in the habitat. The signage will also describe how the site is functioning to attenuate rainfall inputs and clean up water before it flows to the ocean.
Resilient Volusia County. Volusia County. This project is a collaborative effort between Volusia County, the Florida Department of Transportation, the University of Florida and others to pilot test a new sea-level rise planning tool to provide implementation recommendations about community adaptation, and also to provide educational experiences for county leaders and planners, residents and FDOT staff. The results of the exercise will inform agencies and people involved in future planning about vulnerability of particular areas and particular infrastructure in the county so that wise decisions can be made to be most resilient in the face of sea-level rise
Walton Scrub Observation Tower. City of Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County. This project expands a passive recreational trail system in Walton Scrub, located on the shore of the Indian River Lagoon in St. Lucie County. In particular the project includes construction of a 60-foot observation tower for bird and wildlife viewing. The aim of the project is to provide a regional hiking destination. The tower will also have a webcam that provides a 360-degree online view of the site. The project also improves public access to the Indian River Lagoon. This is the only publicly-owned land in a long distance of shoreline along the lagoon in this region.
Climate Change Adaptation in Key Biscayne Bay. Village of Key Biscayne, Miami-Dade County. This project provides the Village of Key Biscayne with actionable, science-based information on vulnerability to sea-level rise. This will be done by conducting a Sea-Level Rise Vulnerability Analysis and a sea-level rise adaptation plan for the community, both to increase resilience of infrastructure and to increase public awareness of risk.
Resilient Infrastructure Assessment. Bayshore Manor Assisted Living Facility, Monroe County. This project will conduct a formal vulnerability assessment of an important community asset in Monroe County. The project will identify the risks of sea-level rise to one facility in the county, as a means to develop a transferable method that can be used to quantify potential losses for various other assets in the Florida Keys that are anticipated to be impacted by sea-level rise.
Mexico Beach Marina Resilience Enhancement. City of Mexico Beach, Bay County. Current channel markers associated with the marina in Mexico Beach are frequently replaced and are not made to withstand tropical storms and hurricanes. New markers will be installed that are storm resistant and also resistant to sea-level rise. This action will reduce an existing safety hazard for boaters who use the marina. It is estimated by the City that the project will boost the local economy, where this marina currently adds $1.4 million a year to local revenue.
Beach Snorkeling Trail. City of Deerfield Beach, Broward County. The city will construct a near-shore artificial reef snorkeling trail system, located in 10 to 25 feet of water and comprised of limestone boulders placed to represent natural reef patches. The project involves deployment of the reef, development of an outreach program and monitoring the created reef both for human use and for development of marine life including corals, sponges and fish. Sea turtle presence also will be monitored, as the reef system is expected to provide turtles with enhanced habitat.