Current Research Projects

Since 1977, Maryland Sea Grant has funded scientific research relevant to the Chesapeake Bay and the Maryland residents who conserve, enjoy, and make their living from it. We strive to fund projects that both advance scientific knowledge and offer practical results benefiting ecosystems, communities, and economies throughout the Chesapeake Bay region.

Click on an individual project to find out more. Search current and past research projects here.

Principal Investigator:
Cassie Gurbisz
Co-Principal Investigator:
Cindy Palinkas, Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Summary:

Although external nutrient load reductions have been a primary management strategy for Chesapeake Bay restoration, internal ecological processes, such as seasonal nutrient retention in submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) beds, may also play an important, complementary role. However, we lack sufficient details about the factors controlling the magnitude of an important mechanism of SAV-mediated nutrient sequestration--particulate nutrient trapping--to make inferences about its importance relative to total loads to the system.

Principal Investigator:
Lance Yonkos
Co-Principal Investigator:
Alexander MacLeod, University of Maryland College Park
Summary:

Yellow perch have historically been an economically and culturally important fishery to the Chesapeake Bay. Populations, however, have experienced precipitous declines over the past several decades in many regions of the Bay. These declines correlate inversely with percent imperviousness within catchment areas and therefore appear related to human development in the affected watersheds. Females from affected regions are reported to have a high frequency of gamete abnormalities (e.g., thin and irregular zona pellucida (egg envelope), abnormal yolks, and incomplete development at the time of spawn. Additionally, hatching success from impacted populations has declined markedly from > 80% in 1960 to < 10% between 2001 and 2005.

Principal Investigator:
Matthew Gray
Co-Principal Investigator:
Brendan Campbell, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Laboratory
Summary:

The aquaculture industry in Maryland is far from optimized partly due to the lack of knowledge relating oyster growth and morphology to the physical environment (flow and jostling). For sessile suspension feeders, such as oysters, water flow is critical to optimize under culture conditions as it regulates food delivery and waste export. Additionally, jostling may inhibit feeding activity and influence shell shape, the latter of which may influence product marketability. It is also unknown how different off-bottom cage types affect the flow regime. This lack of understanding is not unique to Chesapeake Bay waters but is a concern for oyster farmers globally.

Principal Investigator:
Ryan Woodland
Co-Principal Investigator:
Hongsheng Bi, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; Elizabeth North, Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Summary:

There is a concerted effort to move away from traditional single species fisheries management in Chesapeake Bay toward a more holistic management framework that considers the interactions between fishery and non-fishery species and how their dynamics are linked to their environment. This framework, termed ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM), requires an understanding of the role of forage in sustaining upper trophic levels and the goal of this proposed research project is to fill important knowledge gaps related to the forage base of key commercial and recreational fish species in Chesapeake Bay.

Principal Investigator:
Dennis Whigham
Co-Principal Investigator:
Karen Kettenring, Utah State University; Melissa McCormick, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center; Andrew Baldwin, University of Maryland College Park
Summary:

A European haplotype of Phragmites australis (common reed) is an increasingly widespread invasive plant in Chesapeake Bay tidal wetlands. The spread of Phragmites has been promoted by disturbance and nutrient enrichment, resulting in threats to native plants and animals and triggering changes in ecological processes in wetlands. Cultural issues such as loss of vision-scape and access to water are important public concerns. Phragmites removal is possible but difficult, and thus is likely to be cost-effective over relatively small areas.

The Blue Crab: Callinectes Sapidus

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