The Grand Bay Reserve has developed an active, dynamic, and extensive research program that provides scientifically-based data to inform management strategies for the conservation of critical coastal resources. The goal of the Reserve's research program is to provide a stable environment for research by staff and other investigators through long-term protection of the site to:
- gain greater knowledge about coastal processes;
- conduct studies relating to pertinent coastal management issues;
- collect information necessary for better management of our coastal resources and
- make this information available to stakeholders.
Current research and monitoring efforts by reserve staff and other researchers are focused on meeting this goal. To date, these efforts have focused on the implementation of various monitoring programs (e.g., water quality, meteorological conditions, nutrients, nekton, marsh birds, etc.), conducting status surveys and inventories for flora and fauna found on and around the reserve, and compiling research needs and data gaps to be used in the development of a comprehensive, long-term research strategy for the Grand Bay Reserve. A Grand Bay Reserve site characterization study was completed in 2007.
Focus Areas of the Research Program
The Grand Bay Reserve research staff has developed several focus areas over the past 10 years. These focus areas are based in part on several elements: increased understanding of the Grand Bay ecosystem through site-focused investigations; monitoring and research needs and data gaps identified in the site profile; research issues identified through conceptual risk assessment models developed in collaboration with the Environmental Cooperative Science Center; areas of expertise of reserve staff; and opportunities for collaboration with universities, research laboratories, and government scientists.
The Reserve has developed six broad focus-areas for research: (1) Ecological Effects of Sea-Level Rise, (2) Ecology of Tidal Marsh Vertebrates, (3) Ecology of Unique Habitats (e.g., salt pannes, shell middens, submerged aquatic vegetation beds, etc.) (4) Monitoring Ecosystem Effects of Atmospheric Mercury, (5) Coastal Plant Ecology and Mapping, and (6) Long-term Monitoring of Environmental Conditions. Since the inception of the research program in 2001 at the Reserve, over more than 100 research projects have taken place on the Reserve, involved reserve research staff, and/or utilized data collected for the Reserve.