• 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.

Want to learn more about Sea Grant projects around the country?

The brand new National Sea Grant Impacts and Accomplishments database can search funded projects by state, year and project focus area. To access the database, click the following link: Sea Grant Impacts and Accomplishments

Accessing Florida’s Coast
Climate Change/Coastal Planning
Coastal Planning
Healthy Oceans and Coasts
Seafood Safety


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

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

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

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Accessing Florida’s Coast

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/Coastal Planning

Recommendations for Everglades Restoration under a Future Climate Scenario Technical Meeting. Leonard Berry, Florida Atlantic University. This focus of this technical meeting will center around Everglades restoration strategies that can be implemented, if necessary, through an adaptive management process. Resulting recommendations could influence the engineering design of projects, and the operation of plans that will need to be developed. It is expected that the meeting will identify information needs that could help reduce uncertainty in future predictions, and how those needs might influence budget decisions. P-D-14-16

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.

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

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. R-CP-38

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

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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.

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.

Tools to enhance the Sustainability and Profitability of the Caribbean FAD Fishery. Kai Lorenzen, University of Florida. This project aims to improve the profitability and sustainability of pelagic FAD fisheries as a way of improving local seafood availability while reducing pressure on overexploited reef fisheries. The project will do this by introducing artificial lure options for local fishermen and testing the effectiveness of the lures. The practicality of lure use by the fishermen will then be explained through facilitated workshops.  RC-Caribbean-1

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

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. R-LR-B-65

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 used molecular techniques, geographic information systems, and phylogenetic inference to determine prevalence patterns of PaV1 in Caribbean Spiny Lobster around the Florida Keys. PD-14-6

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

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. GOM-RP-4

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

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. R-CS-53

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

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. 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

Sea Grant Customer Satisfaction Survey Pilot Study. Glen Israel, University of Florida. The Florida Sea Grant program needs to quantify its statewide impact by measuring how stakeholders value the organization. This study will collaborate with Florida Sea Grant agents to conduct a customer satisfaction survey to collect data for reporting to federal government officials and legislators. P-D-14-17


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Seafood Safety

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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

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