2010 Progress Report: Interaction of Climate Change, Landuse and Invasive Species: Tests of Contrasting Management Scenarios for Coastal Communities

EPA Grant Number: R833838
Title: Interaction of Climate Change, Landuse and Invasive Species: Tests of Contrasting Management Scenarios for Coastal Communities
Investigators: Whitlatch, Robert B. , Osman, Richard W.
Institution: University of Connecticut , Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: April 1, 2008 through March 31, 2012
Project Period Covered by this Report: April 1, 2009 through March 31,2010
Project Amount: $595,852
RFA: Ecological Impacts from the Interactions of Climate Change, Land Use Change and Invasive Species: A Joint Research Solicitation - EPA, USDA (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Global Climate Change , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Ecosystems , Climate Change


There are five objectives: (1) Work with environmental managers and stakeholders to explore different scenarios for land use planning, development of coastal areas, habitat restoration, or other management issues in the context of climate change and invasive species. (2) Conduct mesocosm experiments testing links between climate change and land use in altering the ability of invasive species to affect native communities. (3) Conduct field experiments to assess temporal and/or spatial scales of potential efforts needed to effectively manage invasive species. Goals include testing whether marina-scale or larger scale eradication are needed to control future invasions and the timing in which management of invasive species is most effective. (4) Conduct field experiments examining survival of key predators of invasive species in areas of different land use. If predators are limiting invasions of open coast habitats, it is important to understand what limits the distribution of these critical species. (5) Develop predictive models to assess alternative management strategies. Focus will be placed on integrating management needs with ecological predictions that allow managers to evaluate multiple stressors at different temporal and spatial scales in different types of coastal systems.

Progress Summary:

To date, we have:

  • Conducted a project evaluation and planning workshop to review progress and develop strategies for future modeling efforts and their integration.
  • Participated in and presented our preliminary results at an EPA Program Workshop in Seattle, WA.
  • Established a project Management Advisory Board consisting of the following individuals: Mark Tedesco (Director, U.S. EPA Long Island Sound Office), Paul Stacey (Director of Planning and Standards, Bureau of Water Protection and Land Use, CT Department of Environmental Protection), Gary Wikfors (Scientist, NOAA-NMFS, Milford, CT), Adam Whelchel (Director of Conservation Science, The Nature Conservancy, CT Chapter), Beth Doran (Director, Long Island Sound Resource Cener, CT DEP), Susan McNamara (Executive Director, Long Island Sound Foundation).
  • Conducted workshops with various Long Island Sound resource managers and stakeholders – August 4, 2008, and May 25, 2009 – to discuss management priorities and needs; broaden network with the managers/stakeholders; discuss project goals and outputs and how they can assist with management goals.
  • Met with shellfish, planning, and conservation commissions – Towns of Groton, New London, Stonington, East Lyme/Waterford – to discuss local management needs and goals of the project.
  • Outreach activities related to the project included: (a) Interviews/articles: Connecticut National Public Radio, New London Day, Boston Globe; (b) featured segment on AquaKids Episode 18 (distributed to ~80M households nationwide; aired in Connecticut 24 Jan 2009, aired nationally week of 19 Jan 2009).
  • Constructed and tested a flow-through, environmentally controlled, large-scale mesocosm facility for conducting controlled experiments designed to examine the interactions of climate change, land use and invasive species on southern New England coastal habitats.
  • Used the mesocosm facility to conduct experiments examining the interactions of elevated seawater temperatures and nutrient additions on the growth and survival of native and non-native invertebrate species.

Photograph of the mesocosm facility housed on UCONN’s Avery Point Campus, Groton, CT.

  • Modifying and expanding the spatially explicit, hydrographic model developed by Dr. John Hamilton, a postdoctoral fellow with the PI. This model has been expanded to examine a larger geographic area, to include a greater diversity of species life-history characteristics that encompass the key threshold species and communities. Model output also has been modified to allow a greater flexibility in questions addressed and increased statistical rigor. Model input has been expanded to increase applicability to management decisions.
  • Conducted a series of field experiments to assess the effect of key predators (e.g., snails, crabs, seastars) on invasive species in areas of different coastal land use in southern New England.
  • Conducted a pilot study to assess the effectiveness of marina-scale or larger scale eradication of non-native species as a method for controlling future invasions.

Future Activities:

Present efforts will continue and be expanded. Activities planned include:

  • Conduct a Management Advisory Board workshop to evaluate progress and plan final project laboratory and field experiments and modeling efforts. This workshop will focus on project productivity, including publications, presentations at national meetings, and outreach to the management community.
  • Conduct a controlled mesocosm experiment designed to examine the effects of elevated seawater and nutrient additions on benthic assemblages of native and non-native invertebrates associated with eelgrass, sand and rocky habitats.
  • Conduct a series of field experiments in areas of different coastal land use (e.g., residential, industrial, "pristine") to assess the effectiveness of different predator guilds (e.g., crabs, snails, seastars, amphipods, shrimp) in controlling the growth and survival of native and non-native fouling assemblages.
  • Conduct a series of field experiments to assess the effectiveness of marina-scale or larger scale eradication of non-native species as a method for controlling future invasions. Experiments will be conducted at two sites; one associated with degraded water conditions and one associated with less polluted waters.
  • Publication of project results. At the present stage, we anticipate publishing at least 8 peer-reviewed articles related to the project. Two manuscripts have been submitted to Marine Ecology Progress Series and are currently under peer-review, and three manuscripts are in preparation and will be submitted for publication within approximately 6 months.
  • The presentation of results at one or more international scientific meetings. At least two presentations will be given at the Benthic Ecology Meetings in Mobile, AL.
  • Expand specific project pages on existing websites. At present, the project is described in general terms. The additions will supply specific model results and provide links for researchers and managers to access the models.
  • Present model applications to local or regional managers. This may be done as a small forum or as a 1-day workshop.

Journal Articles on this Report : 2 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 21 publications 8 publications in selected types All 7 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Reinhardt JF, Stefaniak LM, Hudson DM, Mangiafico J, Gladych R, Whitlatch RB. First record of the non-native light bulb tunicate Clavelina lepadiformis (Muller, 1776) in the northwest Atlantic. Aquatic Invasions 2010;5(2):185-190. R833838 (2010)
R833838 (2011)
R833838 (Final)
  • Full-text: Aquatic Invasions-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: Aquatic Invasions-Abstract
  • Journal Article Westerman EL, Whitlatch R, Dijkstra JA, Harris LG. Variation in brooding period masks similarities in response to changing temperatures. Marine Ecology Progress Series 2009;391:13-19. R833838 (2008)
    R833838 (2009)
    R833838 (2010)
    R833838 (2011)
    R833838 (Final)
  • Full-text: MEPS-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: MEPS-Abstract
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    Climate change, land use, non-native species, southern New England, coastal habitats, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, Environmental Chemistry, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Monitoring/Modeling, Aquatic Ecosystem, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Atmosphere, environmental measurement, meteorology, socioeconomics, climate models, ecosystem indicators, aquatic ecosystems, environmental stress, coastal ecosystems, global climate models, invasive species, ecological models, climate model, ecosystem stress, land and water resources, Global Climate Change, atmospheric chemistry

    Relevant Websites:

    Team Benthos | Marine Science | University of Connecticut Exit
    Benthic Ecology Lab | Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Exit

    These web sites have or will have links to the current EPA supported research project and will be periodically updated to include recent findings.

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2008 Progress Report
  • 2009 Progress Report
  • 2011 Progress Report
  • Final Report