NOAA awards nearly $600,000 to mangrove resilience project

Map of all NERRS Science Collaborative Grant Awards
Photo courtesy National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative

An FIU Institute of Environment researcher is trying to understand how mangrove coasts gain back their strength after being hit by a hurricane.

NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative (NERRSSC) recently awarded 20 projects a total of over $5.2 million to address coastal issues across the country. FIU Institute of Environment postdoctoral associate Danielle Ogurcak is lead researcher on one of the 20 awarded projects.

The project was awarded nearly $600,000 and is one of only six three-year collaborative science initiatives awarded during this round. The project will explore the drivers of degradation to mangrove ecosystems in Florida’s Rookery BayNational Estuarine Research Reserve and Puerto Rico’s Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, with a specific focus on the impacts of the 2017 hurricane season.

Unique from other funding programs, the NERRSSC program is end-user driven. Those who will use the knowledge collected from this research will be involved in the entire process, from project design to dissemination of results. These users include the staff of both reserves and reserve partners, land managers of adjacent natural areas, NGOs, municipal officials, local community organizers and business leaders.

Image of project group meeting in Puerto Rico.

The project’s proposal was a culmination of a year-long collaborative effort connecting with community members in both Rookery Bay and Jobos Bay. Over the last year, Ogurcak and her team worked closely with community members from both reserves to collect feedback about the impacts they’ve felt from the 2017 hurricane season. The project also aimed to aggregate information on environmental stressors to both estuaries.

The results of the new initiative will be shared in a series of webinars and at a symposium in the third year of the project to be held at FIU to bring together researchers and managers of mangrove ecosystems throughout Florida and the wider Caribbean region.

Collaborators on the awarded grant include the staff of both Reserves, researchers from the University of South Florida including Frank Muller-Karger and Digna Rueda-Roa, policy associate Sara Maso and Lydia Olander from the Nicholas Institute of Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke.

Read the full news release on the 2020 NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative (NERRSSC) webpage.