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In The News

Building up Oysters: Coastal Conservation and Restoration by Harte Institute Helps Support Whole Shellfish Life Cycle

If you want to become acquainted with one of the largest producers of oysters in the Gulf of Mexico, look no farther than the state of Texas, says Jennifer Pollack, Chair of Coastal Conservation and Restoration at Harte Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. “Texas is the second largest producer of oysters in the Gulf of Mexico, behind Louisiana,” Pollack explains. “And the Gulf itself produces the largest annual catch of wild harvested native oysters in the world.” Within many Texas bays, lower salinity “brackish” waters exist from the mixing of fresh river waters and salty Gulf waters, creating conditions that allow the eastern oyster to thrive. “We perform several types of environmental monitoring,” says Pollack.

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Agriculture Changing Sediment and Nutrient Concentrations in Acton Lake

Since the early 1990s, officials in southwestern Ohio have been working to improve the water quality and clarity in Acton Lake. Local farming operations had been producing large amounts of sediment that were draining into the lake's watershed and filling up the lake. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) instructed local farmers in conservation tillage, which involves plowing the soil less frequently to reduce sediment runoff. Now, new research based on the years of data produced from managing Acton Lake reveals an interesting trend: stratification of nutrients in soil due to conservation tillage may be having unintended consequences in the watershed.

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Heart of Monitoring: Blue Oak Ranch Reserve Takes the Pulse of the Wild

“We use our Memsic ēKo Pro Series system to do active environmental monitoring for several new projects,” says Zac Harlow, Resident Manager of Blue Oak Ranch Reserve (BORR) in San José, California, which is operated by UC Berkeley as part of the University of California’s Natural Reserve System (NRS). The BORR is also a member of the Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS).  “The system was originally created for agricultural work, but since 2008, we have been using it to do environmental research. The ēKo Node system lets us monitor the environment wirelessly and allows us to use a variety of sensors. We have 50 of them all over Blue Oak Ranch Reserve, which is the only large-scale deployment of these devices.

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