Omnibus Research Projects: 2014-2016
The Louisiana Sea Grant College Program (LSG) intends to support seven research projects for the funding period which began Feb. 1, 2014. Below is a synopsis of the projects, along with a list of the principal investigators and their affiliations.
Field Testing and Technology Transfer of an Alternative Bait for the Blue Crab Fishery
Julie Anderson (Louisiana State University AgCenter, Louisiana Sea Grant)
During the current omnibus cycle, LSG funded a project to determine if waste and by-products produced by the shrimping industry could be converted into bait for crab traps. The next phase of the research will take the bait developed in the lab and test it in real-world situations. Field testing will be conducted at four sites over three seasons, allowing for measurements of the bait’s effectiveness across seasonal, temperature and salinity changes. Once field testing has provided confirmation of the usefulness of the new bait, it will be tested by commercial fishermen. Researchers hope to develop a cost-efficient alternative commercial crab bait. Traditional baits mainly consist of wild-caught fish, particularly Atlantic menhaden, which are rising in price.
Forecasting Land Building and Hurricane Flood Risk Reduction by River Diversion in Mississippi River Delta
Qin Jim Chen (Louisiana State University)
Ehab Meselhe (The Water Institute of the Gulf)
A major component of Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan includes using river diversions to move water and sediment into areas most susceptible to land loss and erosion. In order to do this efficiently, there are a number of factors that must be considered.
This project proposes to use the combined resources of The Water Institute of the Gulf (TWIG) and LSU to create models that will show the hydrodynamics, sediment transport and morphology, visualizing what will happen when the diversions are completed. By using the Delft3D modeling suite, researchers will look at how diversions will affect the receiving basins in Breton Sound. Once completed, the models will be able to show tidal changes, wave impact and salinity levels. These models can then be used to help coastal managers control the allocation of sediments in order to reduce negative impacts diversions may have on navigation, residents and the coast.
Impact of Climate Change on Louisiana Coastal Ecosystem: Development of Research-Driven Student-Centered Learning Modules
Emad Habib (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Jenneke Visser (ULL)
Douglas Williams (ULL)
Yuxin Ma (ULL)
Louisiana’s unique coastal ecosystem offers numerous educational opportunities concerning fundamental hydro-ecological processes and how those processes are affected by natural and human impacts. This study proposes to use the coastline as a “teaching laboratory.” The researchers will develop a learning tool called “EcoHydroViz,” which will include a suite of learning modules with a unique focus on the effect of climate change on Louisiana’s coastal ecosystems. These learning modules will allow students to access datasets on future scenarios of climate change, and analyze model simulations to study the impact on the ecosystem, such as changes in water level, salinity and marsh vegetation distributions. Once developed, the lesson modules will be used to educate university-level students about hydrological impacts on ecosystems and better prepare students for the challenges facing the state in coming years.
Improving Region Specific Eastern Oyster Models by Quantifying Physiological Responses to Regional Environmental and Climatic Variability Using a Dynamic Energy Budget Approach
Jerome F. LaPeyre (LSU AgCenter)
The eastern oyster is an integral part of Louisiana’s coastal ecosystem for both ecological and economic reasons. With more than 85 percent of global shellfish reefs labeled as functionally extinct, it is important to find ways to protect and enhance this vital natural resource.By developing a dynamic energy budget (DEB) model specific to the conditions found in Louisiana’s coastal waterways, researchers hope to gain a better of understanding of how environmental conditions affect the growth and mortality of the eastern oyster in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The DEB model provides a way of understanding how energy is assimilated and used for maintenance, growth and reproduction according to the individual and its environment. Currently, DEB models for the eastern oyster are lacking in their accounting for all the environmental conditions common to Louisiana’s coast, especially temperature and salinity. The model, once produced, can then be used to determine the effects of climate change and human-caused activity on the state’s oyster population, as well as generalized for use in other coastal areas.
Funded Graduate Student: Stephanie Bernasconi
Response of Louisiana Black Mangrove to Climate Changes: Learning from the Past to Predict the Future
Kam-biu Liu (LSU)
Understanding what Louisiana’s coast looked like 2,000 years ago could give the state some insight into the future as climate change and coastal management initiatives begin to have an impact. By creating a pollen record of vegetation changes across Louisiana’s coast, this project will provide a means of predicting the future changes in distribution and abundance of mangroves across Louisiana’s coast as the climate warms. The replacement of salt marsh grass by mangroves possibly offers many advantages for coastal restoration, as mangroves can help to reduce erosion and build land through trapping sediment in their dense root structures.
The research will focus on two specific time periods: the Medieval Warm Period, which lasted from about 950 to 1250 A.D., and the Little Ice Age from 1550-1850 A.D. Specifically, the project will look at the presence of black mangroves along the state’s coast during these periods. Mangroves exist in tropical and subtropical climates and come in three varieties: red, white and black. Currently, Louisiana has few populations of black mangroves and none of the red or white variety, but this may not have always been the case. As temperatures are expected to rise due to climate change, current mangrove populations could increase, but there may also be a migration of new species into Louisiana. Quantification of the past will provide the necessary information to plan
effectively for the future of coastal Louisiana.
Funded Graduate Student: Marianne Dietz
A Novel Technique to Measure Nitrogen Fluxes in Newly Formed and Restored Marshes and Tidal Creeks: Developing Realistic Ecological Metrics for Eutrophication Assessment and Nutrient Budgets
Victor Rivera-Monroy (LSU)
Kanchan Maiti (LSU)
Eutrophication occurs in water bodies when there is an increase in nutrients, which can lead to excessive algal blooms that deoxygenize the water. It is a natural process but can be exacerbated by human activity such as farming that produces agricultural runoff.
The Louisiana Comprehensive Master Plan includes river diversions that could alter the nutrient supply in some areas. This project will employ new technology in the form of a High Vertical Resolution Profiler System (HIVERPROS) sediment profiler and two benthic chambers to collect sediment and water samples from the bottom of water bodies, providing data lacking in previous studies. The HIVERPOS will allow sediment to be profiled in situ, or at the water bottom, as opposed to having to bring the samples to the surface, which can cause gas release and loss from jostling and interaction with the atmosphere. By keeping the samples at the bottom, a better picture of the actual level of nutrients can be gleaned, providing better information when choosing denitrification processes.
Marker-Assisted Selective Breeding to Produce Dermo-Resistant Eastern Oysters
Qinggang Xue (LSU AgCenter)
Jerome F. LaPeyre (LSU AgCenter)
John Supan (LSG, LSU)
Finding a method to effectively choose healthy oysters for selective breeding to combat the deadly oyster disease Dermo is the focus of this project. Traditional methods of selective breeding, which include choosing surviving members of a disease-ridden population, may not provide the best option, as there is an increased chance of a reduction in genetic diversity due to inbreeding. Over time, disease resistance could be lost as inbreeding oysters has been found to impair immunity resistance to diseases and stressful environments.
The researchers propose to use a newly discovered family of protease inhibitors, cvSI, as a marker for determining the suitability of an oyster for selective breeding purposes. The new inhibitors were discovered by the researchers in a previous Louisiana Sea Grant-funded project, and it appears to work to defend against the parasite Perkinsus marinus, which causes Dermo. To test the hypothesis, oysters will be collected from wild populations in coastal Louisiana. They will then be measured for cvSI activity, and the top 10 percent and bottom 10 percent in terms of activity will be used. Another 50 oysters will be selected randomly. Each group will be bred at the Louisiana Sea Grant Oyster Research Lab on Grand Isle and the progeny tested for susceptibility to Dermo.