Thursday, September 28, 2023

UNCW researchers awarded $400K grant to study seagrasses

WILMINGTON — Two UNCW professors and researches have been awarded an almost $400,000 National Estuarine Research Reserve Science Collaborative Grant to further their research on coastal ecosystems.

Jessie Jarvis and Stephanie Kamel will study seagrasses, which provide habitat and nurseries for fisheries species, help improve water quality and help fight climate change by burying carbon.

“The exciting aspect of this research is that it has the potential to move eelgrass restoration into a whole new direction,” Jarvis said in a press release.

High ocean water temperatures result large-scale diebacks of eelgrass meadows in Virginia’s lower Chesapeake Bay, weakening the meadowss. When seagrasses die, most of the habitat in that area is also lost. If the decline of eelgrass is large enough entire fisheries can be lost at a local level.

This can have detrimental effects on species that depend on seagrass as a habitat during their juvenile stages, like blue crabs. In contrast, many eelgrass populations in North Carolina’s Back Sound appear to be more resilient to warming water temperatures.

“The Center for Marine Science is proud to have Drs. Jarvis and Kamel undertaking such an important effort that will inform science-based restoration decisions,” CMS Executive Director Ken Halanych said in a press release.

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