Landscape Ecology/Quantitative Ecology Laboratory
Dr. Wei Wu began building a new Landscape Ecology/Quantitative Ecology laboratory when she came to the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in 2007. Now, the lab has the appropriate personnel, equipment, facilities, and software to apply mathematical models, Bayesian and frequentist statistics analyses, computer simulations, geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing techniques, controlled experiments, and field studies in a systematic way to understand hydrological cycle, biogeochemical processes, primary productivity, land use/land cover change, species distribution, and energy at multiple spatial and temporal scales in coastal wetlands, coastal forests, tropical forests and temporal forests. Central to the lab’s current research is the effort to understand coastal land cover and land use change (including urban areas and coastal wetlands), resilience of coastal environments to natural and anthropogenic disturbances, hydrological and biogeochemical cycles in forest and wetland ecosystems, and species distribution in forest, coastal, and marine ecosystems.
Two examples of the lab's spatial and quantitative projects related to coastal environments are provided here.
Dr. Wu has obtained grants to study how accelerated sea level rise, climate change, and upland change will affect the spatial distribution of wetlands, and how the spatial changes will affect storm surge and estuarine nursery production of juvenile fishes. Other funded research includes:
- Evaluating evacuation routes resiliency to storm surge, river flooding and wind damage
- Simulating hurricane effects on carbon and water cycles in coastal forests
- Quantifying evapotranspiration at tropical forests
- Predicting biogeochemical cycles in temperate forests under climate change
- Assessing the impact of the 2010 BP oil spill on coastal wetlands
- Modeling the impact of urbanization on coastal water quality
Dr. Wu has also worked with social scientists and ecological economists working to understand ecological services in the context of climate change. Dr. Wei Wu is strongly committed to teaching students how to think spatially, quantitatively, and systematically. She teaches Geographic Modeling, Geostatistics, Ecological Data and Models, Hydrological Modeling (part of Coastal Water Quality), and Introduction to GIS.
Chongfeng Gong, Ph.D.
Chongfeng Gong is a post-doc researcher. He earned his Ph.D. of Landscape Ecology in December 2010 at Sun Yat-Sen University, China. He worked as a research assistant professor at Wenzhou Medical College, China for a year before beginning his research at GCRL in June 2011.
Dr. Gong has a strong background in remote sensing and GIS. His experience includes building remote sensing and GIS models and determining leaf area index (LAI), vegetation index (VI), and land surface temperature (LST) using remote sensing imagery and related field data.
Dr. Gong developed a sub-pixel algorithm for application to remote sensing imagery to model changes in impervious areas on Mississippi Gulf Coast. The area of impervious surfaces, such as buildings and parking lots, is further linked to coastal habitat quality over time. Details are provided here.
Dr. Gon worked on an assessment of the impact of 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on coastal wetlands and led the field sampling with the LI-6400XT portable photosynthesis system. He is now developing models to estimate marsh plant biomass, based on the field measurements, GIS, and remote sensing. Marsh biomass is a key variable in modeling the impact of sea level rise on coastal wetlands. One key result is his finding of a vegetation spectral index which is effective in estimating the biomass of Juncus roemerianus (the dominant species of salt marsh vegetation in Mississippi), which was rarely done using remote sensing techniques in the past.
Previously, he worked on assessing the spatial distribution, classification, and health status of urban forests using remote sensing imagery. He analyzed their spatial patterns, temporal changes, and drivers of the changes. He also had research experiences in modeling how land use change, including vegetation change, affects water quality in an urbanized watershed.
By April 2013, he had published six peer-reviewed papers or book chapters. He has obtained three research grants in China, received four academic awards, and served as the reviewer for four international peer-reviewed journals.
Hailong Huang received his M.S. in Marine Science from the University of Southern Mississippi and worked at the Biological Oceanography Lab for two years before he became a Ph.D. student at GCRL in the summer of 2012. His current research focuses on hydrochemical modeling of the response of high elevation watersheds to climate changes and atmospheric deposition. The work is supported by the EPA. He has also participated in two other projects assessing the impact of sea level rise and the 2010 BP oil spill on coastal wetlands. Hailong is also our boat captain.
In the photo, Hailong is measuring nitrogen content in the leaves of Spartina alterniflora collected at the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve using a CHN analyzer in the lab. Nitrogen content and temperature are two key factors that affect the decomposition rate of dead leaves in the natural environment. Decomposition is an important
component of vegetation dynamics in salt marshes, potentially affecting changes in the spatial distribution of salt marsh as sea levels rise.
Guoxun Wu is a visiting scholar from Nanjing Forestry University, China. He is an Associate Professor of Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics and is currently working towards his Ph.D. at Nanjing Forestry University. His research focuses on ecological modeling, in particular, modeling the impact of the heavy frost in early 2008 on the primary productivity of subtropical forests in China, and forest carbon modeling based on forest inventory data, remote sensing imagery, and biophysical models. He is learning spatial modeling and working on his dissertation.
Lina Fu is an M.S. student. She came from the Nanjing Forestry University, China. Her research interests include: 1) soil carbon cycle/ dynamics, in particular, soil respiration, soil microbial biomass carbon, carbon variations in riparian areas, and the impact of global climate change on carbon cycling; 2) wetland ecology, conservation, restoration and management. She assisted with monitoring photosynthesis rates of marsh plants impacted by 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
In the photo, Lina Fu is attaching a dark clip to the middle portion of a leaf of Spartina alterniflora at a brackish marsh in the lower Pascagoula River Basin. Then she measures the chlorophyll fluorescence of the leave after 20 minutes when it is dark adapted. The dark adapted measurement helps determine the stress level of the leaf and maximum efficiency of photosystem II.
Previous Lab Members
Jennifer Frey received her M.S. from the USM landscape ecology program in fall 2011. Her thesis was titled "Sub-pixel classification of historical and current marsh habitat on the eastern Mississippi gulf coast using remotely sensed images." During her M.S. study, she was also involved in research related to measuring sap flow flux in coastal and tropical forests, and assessing the impact of 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on photosynthesis of Spartina alterniflora.
Jennifer is currently a Biologist Supervisor at the Fisheries Research Laboratory for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries at their Fisheries..
Moo Joon Shim, Ph.D.
Moon Joon Shim received his Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of Southern Mississippi before his post-doc research at GCRL from November 2011 through May 2012. He worked on two research topics: one was an examination of the effects of land use and land cover change on changes in coastal water quality in Mississippi and Louisiana. The other was a study of the seasonal and spatial pattern of evapotranspiration in northeastern Puerto Rico based on sap flow data. He also helped with field work related to the impact of 2010 BP oil spill on photosynthesis of marsh plants in Mississippi.”
Dr. Joon is currently a scientist at Bonner Analytical Testing Company.
Brian Moore was a M.S. student in the USM Department of Geography. He worked for the lab in summer 2010, helping collecting sap flow data and vegetation structure data (such as tree height, tree crown area, and leaf area index) at the Luquillo Experimental Forest in north-eastern Puerto Rico.