Discover Your Island

State Grants Awarded to Island University Researchers to Continue Study of Bays and Estuaries

March 12, 2015

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Four Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi researchers have received more than $365,500 in grants from the state’s General Land Office (GLO) Coastal Management Program to continue projects that study and restore the health of Coastal Bend bays and estuaries.

Dr. Jeremy Conkle, Dr. Dorina Murgulet, Dr. Jennifer Pollack, and Dr. Paul Zimba received grants ranging from $77,000 to $99,000 to be awarded over the next two years.

The Coastal Management Program is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and exists to protect environmental and economic health of the Texas coast and its natural resources. The program awards approximately $2.2 million annually.

Conkle, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, received $77,841 for research to understand the amount of pesticide flowing into and accumulating in Baffin Bay as well as its effects on the dwarf sun clam and the black drum. The black drum is an economically important species that suffered a few years ago due to lack of adequate food sources. This research is important to understanding whether pesticide pollution is impacting the overall health of the Baffin Bay ecosystem.   

Pollack, Assistant Professor of Marine Biology, received $99,289 to continue her work to expand oyster shell collection from local restaurants and recycle them into new or restored oyster reefs to ensure oyster health. She will also be expanding her community-based restoration events by giving educators an intensive five-day training, and developing new lesson plans designed to connect classroom instruction to field experience.

Murgulet, Assistant Professor of Geology, is entering the third phase of her research to understand the water sources and nutrient content of water flowing into the Nueces, Laguna Madre and Aransas estuaries in the Coastal Bend area. The grant of $99,400 will help understand these water flows to determine whether enough freshwater is flowing into the estuaries to support the natural wildlife. Knowing the sources and nutrient content is necessary to further determine health of the estuaries and make recommendations for improvement.

Zimba, Director of the Center for Coastal Studies, received $88,997 to examine the structure of the bottom-dwelling community of phytoplankton, zooplankton, and fish. He will be looking at the interconnectedness of the food webs of coastal wetlands by looking at multiple stable isotopes and productivity rates of producers and consumers. Understanding these food webs is an important step in ensuring wetland health and viability.