• Faculty Funding

    Faculty Funding

Funded Projects

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.

Waterways and Waterfronts
Climate Change
Coastal Planning
Healthy Oceans and Coasts
Seafood Safety


Evaluating Cost-Effective Rotifier Production for Both Commercial and Custom Diets. Ryan Lind, University of Miami. The success of aquaculture in the U.S. depends on cost-effective production rotifers, which are microscopic animals that are used as fish feed. This project aims to identify an optimal algae food type that results in a high rate of rotifer growth andgood quality rotifers as a food source for fish – all at a low cost. PD-14-3

Initial Assessment of Mechanical Harvesting Bottom-planted Hard Clams Mercenaria mercenaria on Shellfish Aquaculture Leases in Florida. Leslie Sturmer, University of Florida. Shellfish are typically grown in bottom bags and harvested manually by the use of hand-held implements. This project is determining the utility of a mechanical device (i.e., a modified hydraulic rake) as a more efficient and cost-effective method for harvesting bottom-planted shellfish, such as hard clams, in Florida.PD-12-15

Preparing for Climate Change: Increasing Hard Clam Production and Survival in the Southeastern United States Using Biomarkers of Thermal Tolerance. Shirley Baker, University of FloridaLeslie Sturmer, University of FloridaJohn Scarpa, Harbor Branch Oceanographic InstituteThis project will provide the data needed to develop a more robust, heat-tolerant clam-strain. Investigators will identify biomarkers, or indicators, of hertiable thermal tolerance in hard clams for use in implementing selective breeding programs for heat-tolerance. R/LR-A-47

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.

Implementation of an Extension Program to Develop the Marine Baitfish Aquaculture Industry in Florida. Cortney Ohs and LeRoy Creswell, University of FloridaThis project will focus on concerted extension activities to educate current and potential aquaculture producers, wholesale and retail distributors about the burgeoning aquaculture-based marine baitfish industry, and increase the number of extension personnel trained to serve the marine bait industry.R/LR-A-49

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

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Waterways and Waterfronts

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

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Climate Change

Planting Sea Oats in an Era of Climate Change: Workshop to Develop Strategies for Dune Stability and Providing Teacher Curriculum for Next Generation Standards. Mike Kane, University of Florida. This workshop  will help prepare high school teachers to educate students on coastal plant restoration issues, climate change and biotechnology. The goal is to produce high-school graduates who are literate about these highly relevant science topics. PD-14-14

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

Rural Coastal Adaptation Planning for Sea Level Rise. Kathryn Frank, University of Florida. The goal of this project, done in partnership with the Levy County Planning Department and the Florida Department of Community Affairs, is to test a recently developed participatory planning model for integrated sea-level rise adaptation in a rural pilot county, Levy, including its incorporated and unincorporated communities, and then develop a method to adapt the pilot model to other rural counties. For more information on this project, visit http://changinglevycoast.org.R/C-S-52

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

Development and Application of 21st Century Coastal Inundation Maps. Y. Peter Sheng, University of FloridaThomas Ruppert, Florida Sea Grant. This research project will develop 21st century user-friendly coastal storm surge inundation maps to accurately quantify the coastal inundation hazard in Florida under present-day and future climate change/sea-level rise scenarios.

Mapping Florida’s Property Parcels for Sea-Level Rise Planning Using a 10 Meter Digital Elevation Model. Thomas Ruppert, Florida Sea Grant. Using maps from the U.S. Geological Survey and a 10-meter digital elevation model, this project will create an atlas that shows those areas likely to be flooded by sea-level rise. The atlas will present information about each of Florida’s 35 coastal counties.

A Parameterized Climate Change Projection Model for Hurricane Flooding, Wave Action, Economic Damages, and Population Dynamics. Jennifer Irish, Texas A&M University; Dawn Jourdan, University of Florida. The goal of this research is to develop future climate change scenarios, develop a model that will predict wave height in a hurricane and the acceleration of flooding, and develop a Google Earth tool that will help visualize economic damages and affected areas.R/GOM-RP-2

Implications for Takings Law on Innovative Planning for Sea-Level-Rise in the Gulf of Mexico. Stephanie Showalter, University of Mississippi School of Law; Thomas Ruppert, Florida Sea Grant. In coordination with an assembled planning advisory council of nationwide acclaim, this research project will use traditional methods of legal research and writing, including the review of statutory, judicial, regulatory and other legal materials in the areas of eminent domain, regulatory takings law, environmental law and land-use planning law to develop policies for adaptation to sea-level rise in the Gulf of Mexico.

Climate Change Adaptation 2012: Sarasota County, Florida, Process and Tools for Stakeholders. Thomas Ruppert, Florida Sea Grant. This project will design and implement facilitated, collaborative processes with an innovative visualization software and hardware combination to engage stakeholder representatives in Sarasota County. The project will result in policy development to address rebuilding of damaged structures after a storm.

Climate Change Adaptation 2012: Sarasota County, Florida, Process and Tools for Stakeholders. Thomas Ruppert, Florida Sea Grant. This project is using new mapping and visualization technology called Community Health and Resource Management (CHARM) to support a stakeholder-driven process to evaluate alternative strategies for minimizing risk to coastal properties from sea-level-rise in Sarasota County, Florida.

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Coastal Planning

Map and Table Revisions to the “Atlas of Potential Sea-Level Rise Impacts at the County Scale: Aggregate Parcel and Land Use.” Paul Zwick, University of Florida. This project is refining the resolution of a map-based Atlas generated from a spatial analysis of projected sea level rise impacts to coastal property values in Florida.

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Ecosystem-based Fishery Management: A Potential Interdisciplinary Approach to Evaluating Grouper Harvest Policies. Micheal Allen, University of Florida. Researchers are partnering with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to evaluate different methods to sustainably manage stocks of economically important sport fish in the Gulf of Mexico. The researchers are using state-of-art modeling tools to explore the ecological and economic impacts of different harvest policies for grouper, including seasonal closures, fishing quotas, and length limits on the fishery.

Determining the Ecological and Epidemiological Consequences of Casitas in the Florida Spiny Lobster Fishery. Donald Behringer, University of Florida. This project will determine the effect of artificial structures (casitas) used for commercial fishing on the survival, condition and transmission of a lethal virus among spiny lobsters. The research is being done in collaboration with lobster fishermen in the Florida Keys.

Design of a Planning Framework to Strengthen the Role of Fisherfolks Organizations in Promoting Cooperative Self-Governance of Caribbean Fishery Resources. Kai Lorenzen, University of Florida; Charles Sidman, Florida Sea Grant. This project will examine the role that Caribbean fisheries officers and extension professionals can play in increasing the influence of Fisherfolks Organizations (FFO) in sustaining fishery resources, and identify mechanisms to strengthen the interface between FFO and key government agencies and between FFO and their constituents, through a coordinated strategic planning process.

South Florida/Bahimian Ecoregion Policy Support and Exchange. Tom Ankerson, 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

Evaluating Patterns in the Prevalence of Panulirus argus Virus 1 (PaV1) in the Caribbean Spiny Lobster across different size and Spatial Scales. Abigail Clark, University of Florida. This project, in the Florida Keys, will examine how the lethal virus Panulirus argus Virus 1 (PaV1) affects populations of spiny lobster, a high value fishery that has been severely impacted by this disease. The work is part of a larger, multi-year study to understand and possibly control the occurrence of this PaV1through changes in lobster management and fishing policies in the Caribbean. PD-14-6

An Ethnographic Assessment of St. Croix’s Fishery and its Response to the HOVENSA Oil Refinery Closure. Samantha Feingold, University of Miami. This project will assess the impacts to St. Croix's fishery from the HOVESNA oil refinery closure, which resulted in a loss of over $580 million from the island's economy. The study focuses on the island's fishery, to determine if the economic loss impacted this particular sector of the island’s economy. PD-14-7

Framing Sustainability for our Nation’s Fisheries: A Development Program for the Gulf of Mexico. Steve Otwell, University of Florida. This project is establishing a regional network comprised of regulatory agency and industry experts to strengthen collaboration among those groups and to affirm the sustainability and safety of Gulf of Mexico seafood products.

A Participatory Co-management Strategy for the use of Fish Aggregation Devices in Dominica and St. Vincent to Sustain the Caribbean Pelagic Fishery and Communities that Depend on it. Charles Sidman, Florida Sea Grant. This project, being funded through Counterpart International, is developing a monitoring system and a stakeholder engagement process to document fishing effort and to develop best management options for the use of Fish Aggregation Devices, which are increasingly being used by Caribbean artisanal fishers.

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

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Healthy Ecosystems

The effects of brevetoxins on Maternal Health and Reproductive Success in the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. Justin Perrault, Catherine Walsh, Mote Marine Laboratory. Among the various species of sea turtles that occur in Florida waters, Loggerheads seem to be the most heavily impacted by red tide toxin exposure. This project aims to identify the underlying cause. Specifically, it will determine if the brevetoxins  have adverse effects on maternal health and reproductive success in the turtles. PD-14-12

Environmental Controls on the Dynamics of Nursery Habitat Quality for Estuarine-Dependent Fishes. Kevin Craig and Jeffrey Chanton, Florida State University. This research will provide coastal managers with a quantitative tool that can be used to predict the consequences of variable environmental conditions on the capacity of estuarine nursery habitats to support the production of juvenile fishes.

Piloting a Community-Based Social Marketing Program to Protect Marine Ecosystems from Boating Impacts. Denise DeLorme, University of Central Florida; Linda Walters, University of Central Florida; Kathleen Hill, Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program; Robert Swett, University of Florida. In collaboration with the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program, this pilot project will identify barriers and benefits of environmentally-responsible recreational boating and use the findings to develop, implement, and test a program to increase awareness of the importance of protecting marine systems from boating impacts, map the locations of ecologically sensitive zones, and increase responsible boating around those zones on the Indian River.

Conservation Genetics of Red Mangroves in Florida. Richard Hodel, University of Florida. This project will use DNA sequencing to determine the genetic diversity of red mangroves in south Florida. The information can then be used to predict how the populations might respond, and possibly adapt, to sea level rise and other aspects of future climate change. PD-14-2

The Role Synechococcus spp. Mucilage Plays in the Mortality of Sponges in Florida Bay. Danielle Puls, University of Florida. This project will identify the role that the bloom-forming blue-green algae Synechococcus plays in the mortality of sponges in Florida Bay. Since the 1990s, Synechococcus blooms have caused massive sponge die-offs in the bay. This study will test the hypothesis that mucilage proteins produced by the algae negatively affect the filtering abilities of sponges, with the desired outcome being new information to help managers identify species that are more tolerant of blooms for use in restoration projects. PD-14-4

Food Web Delineation and Diet Reconstruction of DeSoto Canyon Macrofauna Communities Following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Arvind Shantharam, Florida State University. This project will examine benthic food webs in the DeSoto Canyon region of the Gulf of Mexico, which was impated by oil after the Deepwater Horizon spill. By using stable isotopes of nitrogen and carbon, the goal is to determine the extent to which animals have bio-accumulated hydrocarbons from the spill. This information can help scientists understand the effects that oil can have in benthic communitis in the Gulf. PD-14-5

Investigating the Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on the Trophic Ecology of Sharks and Teleost Fishes of the Florida Big Bend Using Stable Isotope Analysis. Dean Grubbs and Cheston Peterson, Florida State University. This project will investigate effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on the trophic structure of fishes in the Florida Big Bend. Investigators will use stable isotope analysis and traditional gut content analysis to describe the trophic ecology of fishes in the Big Bend before and after the oil spill.

How the Health of Sarasota Bay Affects the Health of its Citizens. Sandra Gilchrist, New College of Florida. This two-week extended summer enrichment program aims to promote environmental literacy through hands-on experiments and informal science activities. The program is targeted towards low-income and underrepresented middle and high-school students. It will introduce them to marine career options, explain seafood safety, and demonstrate how ecosystem services are enhanced by healthy and diverse marine organisms. PD-14-8

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.

Quantifying a Novel Ecosystem Service of Oyster Reefs: Estuarine Freshwater Entrainment. Peter Frederick, University of Florida. This project will estimate the extent to which oyster reefs along the Big Bend can retain freshwater and influence estuarine salinity. The outcome will be a better understanding of the degree to which oyster reefs affect estuaries and their ability to adapt to effects of climate change, such as sea level rise and increased drought frequency. In addition, the study will shed light on how different water management strategies might enhance or degrade this effect.  PD-14-9

Restoration of Florida Keys Shallow Water Sponge Communities and their Ecological Function. Mark Butler, Shelly Krueger, John Stevely, University of Florida. The Florida Keys have suffered major sponge die-offs due to cyanobacteria blooms and this project will determine which sponge species are most resilient, and thus may be the best candidates for restoration of impacted areas. So far, four sponge species have been successfully transplanted. This study will test at least a dozen species, with the goal of  restoring biodiversity in the region. PD-14-11

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.

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.

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-66H

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

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Seafood Safety

Grouper Forensics for Seafood Quality Control. John Paul, University of South Florida. Product substitution is a serious issue for the nation’s seafood industry. In this ongoing project, researchers are developing a rapid testing device that can be used by restaurants, retail and wholesale seafood operations to determine if fish labeled as Grouper is the real article.

Implementation of Vibrio Monitoring Methods Needed to Sustain Florida Coastal Communities. Anita Wright, University of Florida. This project will develop a more cost-effective and rapid testing method that will detect all three pathogenic Vibrio species, while assessing the factors that contribute to the distribution of Vibrios in oysters. R/LR-Q-34

Updating Public Health Advisories Regarding Methylmercury in Seafood. Steve Otwell, University of Florida. This project will provide the public, especially women and children, with the best health advice currently available regarding the risks and benefits of seafood consumption relative to potential methylmercury exposure through extension efforts to update and train the involved stakeholders affecting policy, public health advice and education.

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Development of Test-Based Data on Hurricane-Induced Building Interior, Utility, and Contents Damage for Improved Risk Prediction and Mapping. Arindam Chowdhury, Florida International University. This project will develop, for the first time, benchmark test-based vulnerability models on hurricane wind-, rain-, and wind-borne debris induced total interior damage, a major contributor to hurricane losses to typical residential homes, and use such models to significantly enhance the existing the Florida Public Hurricane Loss Model and other catastrophe models and their predictions of risk distribution for the Florida and nationwide building stock.

Design Guidelines for Retrofitting Wood Roof Sheathing Using Closed-Spray Applied Polyurethane Foams. David Prevatt, University of Florida. Researchers believe this study will open up a new market for using closed-spray applied polyurethane foams (ccSPF) as a sustainable retrofit method in residential construction. The recommendations for design of wood roof retrofits with ccSPF will be provided to building code officials and disseminated to homeowners through the Florida Building Commission.

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 Ankerson, 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


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