Our research is organized under three broad themes, Transport, Ecosystems, and Modeling. The objective of the Transport effort is to clarify the basic on-shore/off-shore transport mechanisms of the Big Bend Region. The objectives of the Ecosystems research are to examine the role of primary productivity in sustaining the regional ecosystems and the geospatial and trophic interactions that support productivity in economically important reef fish, using gag as a model species. Relative to the latter, we focus on (1) the effect of climate variability on the growth rate and diet of early juvenile gag in seagrass bed nursery grounds, and (2) trophic linkages that occur between seagrass-bed-derived forage species and offshore production of gag in the shelf-edge environment. We also are investigating (3) the geospatial linkage between juvenile gag primary nursery habitat (seagrass meadows) and secondary nursery habitat (shallow water reefs) as staging areas for recruitment to adult populations offshore, consistent with an ecosystem-based management approach for reef fish species. The Modeling component provides broader views of the regional dynamics and incorporates the observations within a single dynamically coherent picture that relates physical dynamics to biological productivity.
Our outreach efforts include providing public data access from the instrumentation at K-tower, participating in educational forums with both community and research groups, and conducting workshops for teachers at the FSU Coastal & Marine Laboratory. We also participate with ongoing climate change forums and actively engage our legislative representatives to ensure their awareness of issues critical to the Northern Gulf of Mexico.