FIU experts available to discuss Biscayne Bay

FIU's autonomous surface vessel surveys Biscayne Bay near Morningside Park

By Gabriela Aguirrechu

Last week, Biscayne Bay experienced unprecedented levels of low oxygen, resulting in a massive fish kill that was followed by gray-green algae along the coast.

FIU experts are available to discuss the health of the bay and surrounding issues.

Todd Crowl, Ph.D.
Executive Director, FIU Institute of Environment
Crowl is a nationally renowned researcher in the fields of food web ecology, urban stream ecology and predator-prey interactions. He is the principal investigator on an NSF-funded project (CREST CAChE) focused on aquatic chemistry and water contamination. About Biscayne Bay, Crowl can provide up-to-date information regarding the readings from the FIU instruments, what areas in the bay are most at-risk and what can be done to improve mitigation efforts.

Piero Gardinali, Ph.D. 
Associate Director
Director, Freshwater Resources Division
FIU Institute of Environment

Gardinali is an expert in the fields of environmental chemistry, chemical oceanography, and water quality monitoring. He specializes in the detection of pollutants and contaminants in many of our South Florida waterways. About Biscayne Bay, Gardinali can provide updates on the sampling and data collected. He can speak about the equipment being used to collect the data and can elaborate on what the data is telling us and may be contributing to the fish kills. 

James Fourqurean, Ph.D.
Director, Coastlines and Oceans Division 
FIU Institute of Environment

Fourqurean is a renowned seagrass expert, as well as a marine and estuarine ecologist with FIU for over 25 years. Fourqurean’s research has focused extensively on seagrass ecosystems as models for addressing general ecological questions. Over the last 10 years, Fourqurean has been helping translate the science of carbon dynamics in coastal ecosystems into actionable policy and climate change mitigation strategies. He is one of the lead scientists in the International Blue Carbon Working Group and serves as a scientific representative to the International Blue Carbon Policy Working Group. About Biscayne Bay, Fourqurean can elaborate on the role that seagrass – and their die-off – is having on the bay, how this happened and what we may be able to do to fix it.

Tiffany Troxler, Ph.D. 
Director of Science for Sea Level Solutions

FIU Institute of Environment
Troxler is a wetland ecosystems ecologist who studies water quality and ecosystem responses to environmental change. Her research informs the management and restoration of coastal and freshwater wetland ecosystems. She was a primary player in the Biscayne Bay Marine Health Summits hosted by FIU in 2017 and 2019 and was one of nine experts chosen by Miami-Dade County to sit on the Biscayne Bay Taskforce. About Biscayne Bay, Troxler can elaborate on the work of the Biscayne Bay Taskforce, including its most recent report. Troxler can also identify solutions for the bay’s health issues.

Henry Briceno, Ph.D.
Research Professor
FIU Institute of Environment
For over 15 years, Briceno has been leading water quality monitoring efforts at FIU. He focuses on how our changing climate is impacting our waterways and the impacts that people and nature have on our ecological systems. Briceno leads the Institute’s Water Quality Monitoring Network. About Biscayne Bay, Briceno can discuss the equipment FIU uses to gather data on the bay’s health. He can speak specifically about the data being collected and the history of Biscayne Bay’s water quality.

Kevin M. Boswell, Ph.D. 
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Boswell is a marine ecologist, with general interests in the ecology and behavioral dynamics of coastal and marine nekton and surface oriented vertebrates. His research program broadly focuses on the interacting factors that mediate the distributional patterns, behavior, habitat use, energetics and natural ecology of coastal and oceanic animals, including the implications of ecosystem variability, particularly for rapidly changing environments. To address many of these interests, his lab integrates advanced sampling techniques, such as active and passive underwater acoustics, with observations from autonomous aerial and aquatic platforms to collect high-resolution data to simultaneously describe spatial and temporal patterns of interest, ranging from individual-level interactions to broad ecosystem dynamics. The observational and analytical techniques his lab employs are robust across an array of ecosystems and animal types facilitating a high-level interdisciplinary and collaborative research program.

Tom Frankovich, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
FIU Institute of Environment
Frankovich is an expert on water quality and algal communities where freshwater is discharged into Florida’s coastal estuaries. A marine ecologist and diatom taxonomist, Frankovich works in coastal marine communities relating water quality to seagrass, macroalgal, and diatom communities. His interests include investigations of seagrass die-off, underwater light availability and diatom taxonomy. He is currently monitoring water quality and algal communities where freshwater is discharged into Florida’s coastal estuaries.

Rita Teutonico, Ph.D. 
Associate Dean of Research
Teutonico is an expert in sustainability science and the molecular genetics of environmental stress on plants. She has also developed and taught interdisciplinary courses related to the science and business of technology, including bioethics. About Biscayne Bay, Teutonico says Biscayne Bay is in a crisis right now from too many nutrients and pollutants running into the bay and creating an unhealthy ecosystem for marine life.

John Berry
Associate Professor
FIU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Berry can speak to the toxicity of Florida Red Tide, and other marine and freshwater algae, and the toxins’ effects on wildlife health and human health. Berry is a chemist with specialization on environmental chemistry and chemical toxicology/pharmacology. His research specifically focuses on the chemistry of toxic cyanobacteria, commonly known as “blue-green algae,” and their effects on the environment and human health. Berry received his Ph.D. from Cornell University, and received postdoctoral fellowships through the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute (NIH-NCI) and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH-NIEHS) at Cornell and the University of Miami (UM), respectively, and was subsequently an Associate Scientist at the UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), before joining the faculty at FIU in 2006.

Ligia Collado-Vides
Senior Lecturer and Associate Chair, Department of Biological Studies

Ligia Collado-Vides is a marine botanist with a research emphasis in ecology of tropical marine macroalgae, or seaweeds and sargassum. She has experience in the tropical macroalgal flora of seagrass and reef communities in the Mexican Caribbean and South Florida. Her research focuses on evaluating the effects of land-based stressors on coastal ecosystems and their potential impact in coral reefs and seagrass ecosystems. She uses macroalgal diversity, abundance, distribution and nutrient content across time to evaluate drivers of change in these ecosystems. She is also interested in the effects of climate change on coastal ecosystems. Her laboratory is conducting research on the role of calcareous green algae in the carbon budget of Florida Bay and the Mexican Caribbean. She is estimating the organic and inorganic carbon produced by these algae along a salinity and nutrient gradient, as part of the Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research program led by FIU.

Brad Schonhoff 
Program Manager
FIU CREST Center for Aquatic Chemistry and Environment
Schonhoff’s main interest is in bridging science and non-science communities through education and communication, especially regarding the impacts and solutions for climate change and sea level rise. He received his M.S. degree at FIU in 2015, after studying the effect of water levels and flooding on emissions of two major greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide and methane – from Everglades soils.