IMS Capstone 2016 – nature based solutions to coastal challenges

dsc_0065Students at IMS’s 2016 field site will take on a big challenge in this year’s Capstone class. Led by the Piehler Lab, the class will conceive, design, build, and test a nature-based product to enhance coastal resilience. While the target product will be determined by the students during the scoping phase, opportunities such as retrofits for bulkheads, islands to provide structure and diversity on shorelines that have lost their structured habitats, and devices to ameliorate stormwater impacts are high on the list of candidate projects.  This will be fun!

Piehler Lab – 2016

Another great summer is just about in the books.  The Piehler Lab 2016 includes (from right to left) Kathleen Onorevole (graduate student in Marine Sciences), Olivia Torano (graduate student in CEE), Suzanne Thompson (lab manager extraordinaire), Adam Gold (graduate student in CEE) and Mike Piehler. (Photo credit – Nathan Hall)2016-08-03 13.56.32

Are coastal plain SCMs BMPs for nutrient control?


Piehler lab graduate student Adam Gold and Lab Manager Suzanne Thompson have undertaken an ambitious field campaign to assess the effectiveness of stormwater control measures (SCM) at removing nitrogen. They have designed and initiated this project in close collaboration with former Master Sergeant Mike Taylor – now a stormwater specialist at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Information generated by this work will improve our understanding of the efficacy of coastal SCMs and will inform stormwater management. Photo credit to Susan Cohen!

Back on Lake Mattamuskeet!

We are excited to be working on Lake Mattamuskeet again!  Our research is funded by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and is examining the factors that may influence the potential for restoration of vascular plants. Two potential limitations on restoration of plants in the lake are light availability and grazing. The project involves mapping the amount of light available in the lake for plants, conducting transplant experiments that include treatments that exclude grazers, and quantifying functional differences between areas of the lake with and without plants.

2016-06-20 11.41.46Graduate student Olivia Torano is the newest member of the Piehler lab and is shown here extracting cores with Suzanne Thompson for sediment nutrient and carbon flux measurements. Our research will provide novel information about the ecological and economic value of shallow lake plant restoration in the context of water quality. Monitoring and experimental designs are being closely coordinated with NC Wildlife Resources Commission and US Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that the research generates actionable information for management of Mattamuskeet and other similar shallow lakes. 2016-06-20 11.14.46

Acidification impacts on oysters and crabs

P6160073Thanks to Jared Brumbaugh for helping us tell the story of Luke Dodd’s recent paper assessing the impacts of acidification on oyster reef trophic interactions. Follow the links to the interview on NPR’s Down East Journal and the article in the News and Observer. This was a great collaboration that Luke facilitated with Jon Grabowski, Justin Ries and Isaac Westfield at Northeastern University.

News and Observer article

Down East Journal Interview


Saltmarsh denitrification enhances coastal resilience…even on armored shorelines

Teri O’MOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAeara’s recently published paper showed that the microbially-mediated process of denitrification was elevated in marsh sediments relative to sediments without marsh plants.  This was true with and without shoreline stabilization structures landward of the areas sampled. No matter the width of the marsh, rates of denitrification were similar. Her study informs our efforts to manage coastal areas that are often nutrient enriched. From Teri’s work we learned that maintaining any marsh seaward of shoreline stabilization structures is beneficial and that restoring saltmarshes in front of bulkheads, where feasible, could enhance ecosystem function. Teri’s paper can be found here.