Monitoring of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation in support of barrier island restoration efforts

Department of Defense Dept. of the Army -- Corps of Engineers
Posted on:

Start Date:

Application Deadline:

Expired

Type

Contract/tender

Reference Number

W81EWF-21-SOI-0024

Background: Submerged aquatic vegetation refers to a subset of vascular plants that have adapted to live underwater, in marine, estuarine and freshwater conditions. Healthy SAV beds are important habitats that are beneficial in many ways. By buffering wave energy, modifying wave currents, preventing erosion, consolidating sediment and influencing deposition, SAV can help to maintain and shape coastal landscapes. In addition, coastal seagrass beds represent one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet and provide food, shelter and nesting grounds to many commercially and ecologically important invertebrate and vertebrate communities. Following the hurricanes of 2005 (i.e., Cindy, Katrina, Rita), Congress funded various research efforts to develop strategic plans to reduce future hurricane and storm damage, saltwater intrusion and shoreline erosion and fish and wildlife preservation. One of the components included in the Mississippi Coastal Improvement Program (MsCIP) comprehensive plan was to evaluate a comprehensive barrier islands restoration plan which includes the filling of the “Camille Cut” on Ship Island to a pre-Hurricane Camille state as well as providing beach and dune fill at Cat Island to provide low-lying coastal areas further protection from storm surges associated with coastal storm events (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2009). A primary objective of this project is to conduct a multi-year monitoring program (pre, during and post construction) to determine restoration success and avoid impacts to threatened and endangered species. A monitoring plan focused on SAV will help to determine whether the resources of the Mississippi Sound are being maintained or impacted as a result of the barrier islands restoration. This project is also of interest to USACE Engineering With Nature (EWN) research program as the MsCIP project provides a field demonstration and study site for EWN focused research. Brief Description of Anticipated Work: This work represents an opportunity to expand a multiscale Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) monitoring program in order to drastically improve field data collection, ground truthing capability and alignment with ongoing lacunarity analysis in support of EWN andMsCIP monitoring and adaptive management efforts for MsCIP Barrier islands restoration. The focus of this research is to document SAV distribution, acreage, and condition (e.g., percent cover and canopy height) and species composition over time at Cat Island and East and West Ship Island through statistical analysis of SAV survey data. The proposed multi-year monitoring program includes multiple years of pre-fill, baseline assessment followed by comparable monitoring periods during construction and post-fill events within the project area. A baseline database, provided through the National Park Service (NPS) long-term SAV monitoring program for the NPS Gulf Seashore will be analyzed along with additional post-construction surveys. Field surveys are conducted annually, at permanent stations during peak biomass. A global position system (GPS) is used to navigate to the station (~4 m accuracy). The sampling station is generally defined as a 10-m diameter area around the station coordinate to account for GPS accuracy and the surface area of the boat. The protocol includes the collection of both SAV and water quality metrics, including species composition, canopy height, percent coverage, temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, light attenuation, and Secchi depth. The seagrass coverage at each site is estimated from four subsample observations within a 0.25 m2 quadrat acquired from the four cardinal directions. Data are collected at the shallowest tides possible during daylight hours, and the depth to activity recorded for all measurements. This specific effort requires an additional sampling effort for an additional 100 sampling sites across Cat and Ship Islands. Data Analysis will include statistical testing to assess temporal changes in SAV conditions. Permanent stations will be categorized by depth (e.g., shallow, mid-depth, and deep) for East Ship Island and West Ship Island, respectively and collectively (i.e., the East Ship Island and West Ship Island data can be pooled at a later date after construction reestablishes East Ship Island and West Ship Island as a single island). The mean percent cover (e.g., all SAV or specific species) will be calculated for each depth category per island, respectively. Following the methodology of Neckles et al. (2012) and Kopp and Neckles (2009), the change in condition over time for depth categories by island will be assessed by using repeated univariate repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). The results of these analyses will be used to determine whether temporal changes in seagrass condition differ significantly among depths. In addition to percent coverage, changes to additional such condition metrics as species composition, canopy height and biomass may be explored using a similar approach. The findings of this cooperative agreement will be made publicly available through the release of public reports or peer-reviewed journal articles as well as a public seminar describing results. The Government will be involved with the research by providing technical guidance on the research, assisting with the experimental design, and collaborating on the journal articles. The Government is not expecting the periods of performances to overlap. Identified project tasks are: 1. Obtain SAV survey data from NPS long-term SAV monitoring program for the NPS Gulf Seashore for baseline (pre-construction) and post-construction surveys2. Work collaboratively with ERDC to analyze data and identify SAV distribution, condition and acreage trends between project phases (pre-construction, construction, post-construction) and project zones.3. Provide data summaries for upward reporting by ERDC. Requirements: Successful applicants should have expert knowledge of 1) SAV communities within the gulf region and 2) Statistical approaches used for analysis of species distribution, vegetative health, and changes in acreage. Areas of expertise required to perform this study include:1) Marine botany: identification and collection of submerged aquatic vegetation that dominate Gulf Coast region.2) Statistical analysis. Applicants will be required to submit quarterly status reports and a final report within 4 months of completion of the study. ERDC and the candidates will develop draft reports to meet EWN and MsCIP Monitoring and Adaptive Management Plan requirements as needed. ERDC and the candidates will develop a draft of the journal article or articles for internal peer review during cooperative agreement’s period of performance.
Categories: Science and Technology and other Research and Development.

More Information

Posted on:

Start Date:

Application Deadline:

Expired

Type

Contract/tender

Reference Number

W81EWF-21-SOI-0024

West%2C%20United%20States

West , United States