Since our ribbon cutting in 2017, the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station has hosted annual Open House events. Our staff looked forward to it every year as a valuable chance to chat about our work. This year, we are not letting the pandemic get in the way! Even though we cannot host an in-person event like normal, we are still excited about connecting with you. We are launching a series called “Nature Coast Currents” to provide a platform to share. Read on to see the lineup of virtual events and how to register to interact with our scientists and learn about current science in the Nature Coast (see what we did, there?).
Estuarine Ecology – Investigating where the river meets the sea! 4:00 pm, Thursday, Sept 17th
The coastal estuarine environment, which includes habitat-forming seagrasses, marshes, mangroves, and oyster reefs as well as the numerous fish and shellfish species we desire to catch and harvest, is an ever-changing system driven by the interactions of freshwater rivers and springs meeting saltwater at the coast. These nearshore regions are highly productive nursery grounds for a multitude of recreational and commercially harvested fisheries species, however the health of these systems relies on the quality and quantity of freshwater input from terrestrial sources.
This Nature Coast Currents session will introduce the habitats and organisms that are formed by and rely on estuaries, discuss how freshwater input dynamics influence this unique environment, and show a variety of “field work” techniques that our scientists use to investigate critical estuarine ecology research questions. And stick around for a Q&A with our panel of estuarine scientists including Dr. Charlie Martin, Dr. Laura Reynolds, and their lab staff/students. REGISTER HERE.
Keeping it reel – Let’s talk about snook! 4:30pm on Thursday, Sept 17th
Snook have expanded northward throughout the Gulf of Mexico over the last decade. In this edition of Nature Coast Currents, we will present information for anglers regarding snook life history, seasonal movement patterns, and spatial expansion northward in the Nature Coast. Long term data sets will be used to follow the changing distribution of snook, and we will discuss the implications of the “neonative” predators (snook) on coastal food webs in the Nature Coast region. Be sure to stick around for a Q&A session with our panel of fish scientists including Dr. Mike Allen and Dr. Charlie Martin. REGISTER HERE.
Fisheries & Ecosystem Modeling – Getting schooled on fisheries! 4:00 PM on Thursday, Sept 24th
Ecosystem-based fisheries management, or EBMF, recognizes that individual species are connected to their surrounding environment through food web interactions and habitat relationships. EBFM is necessary to ensure that our ecosystems and fisheries are sustainable into the future, even as the surrounding environment is changing. In this session, we will discuss research projects that aim to understand how environmental drivers affect fish populations and coastal food webs, and how ecosystem models are being used to support EBFM. And stick around for a Q&A with our panel of fisheries scientists, including Dr. Dave Chagaris and his students! REGISTER HERE.
What’s GROWING on? Building living Shorelines in Cedar Key. 4:30 PM on Thursday, Sept 24th
Coastal change is obvious along Cedar Key’s shorelines. One of the most noticeable changes is rapid erosion along the shorelines of Daughtry Bayou in Cedar Key. Erosion is a natural process in coastal ecosystems but becomes an issue when it threatens homes and infrastructure. The loss of beach, oyster reefs, and marshes along these populated areas leaves property and infrastructure exposed to the damaging effects of storms, among other impacts. Further, the loss of these coastal systems translates into the loss of habitat and other services, such as water filtration and nutrient storage. So, what can be done?
Join us for this Nature Coast Currents session where we will talk about newer but increasingly popular method of erosion control — the living shoreline — and our efforts to install them in Cedar Key. And stick around for a Q&A with our panel of living shoreline scientists, including Dr. Mark Clark and Dr. Savanna Barry. REGISTER HERE.
Lone Cabbage Oyster Reef Restoration Project, 4:00 PM on Thursday, Oct 1st
In less than 30 years, 3,000-year-old oyster reefs off Florida’s Big Bend coastline have declined by 88 percent. With an award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a UF/IFAS team worked with contractors and the community to restore about 3 linear miles of oyster reef along the historic footprint of the Lone Cabbage Reef tract. In this edition of Nature Coast Currents, you’ll hear an update about the reef’s status and meet the researchers working to measure its effects. Stick around for a Q&A with our panel of oyster scientists, including Dr. Peter Frederick, Bradley Ennis, and their field biologists/students! REGISTER HERE.
Nature Coast Currents: LIVE Tour of the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station
Join our Director, Dr. Mike Allen, as he guides you through the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station. You’ll see many improvements to the facilities since 2019, including progress on the state-of-the-art wet lab, new attractions in the discovery center (aquarium), and major improvements on the way for the 3rd floor and grounds. Stick around to ask questions about the NCBS in this finale edition of Nature Coast Currents. REGISTER HERE.