Research Areas and Related Programs
The marine research programs at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory are multidisciplinary and applications-oriented.
Marine AquacultureMarine aquaculture is devoted to developing technologies for environmentally sustainable approaches to marine aquaculture and marine stock enhancement.
- Aquaculture of Cobia, Rachycentron canadum, in Closed Systems. Researchers are experimenting with rearing this large marine fish in indoor aquaculture systems. Jeffrey M. Lotz, Ph.D.
- Marine Shrimp Aquaculture. The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory has developed a leadership role in closed-system water-reuse shrimp culture and reproduction research and has transferred aspects of that technology for use in commercial seed production facilities. Jeffrey M. Lotz, Ph.D.
- Red Snapper Aquaculture. Stock enhancement research and development is underway to augment and increase the options of state and federal fisheries managers as well as to develop a commercial aquaculture industry. Jeffrey M. Lotz, Ph.D.
- Spotted Seatrout Culture. Methods are under development to acquire, maintain and spawn broodstock of spotted seatrout in order to facilitate production, rearing, tagging, releasing and assessing of juveniles in a pilot stocking program. Reginald B. Blaylock, Ph.D.
- Striped Bass Restoration Program. Striped bass have been reared to fingerling size in intensive culture systems and released in coastal tributaries since 1969 in an ongoing effort to restore the decimated population. Larry Nicholson, M.S.
Marine BiodiversityMarine biodiversity describes and classifies aquatic species and determining their life history
- Marine research programs to be listed.
Marine EcologyMarine ecology assesses and predicts changes in marine and coastal ecosystems
- Utilizing passive acoustics to understand spotted seatrout spawning site selection.
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory scientists are currently identifying essential habitats for spotted seatrout, Cynoscion nebulosus, in Mississippi coastal waters. The work uses passive acoustic techniques to identify and map spotted seatrout spawning habitat in two Mississippi estuaries: Grand Bay (an undeveloped bay included in the National Estuarine Research Reserve) and Biloxi Bay (a heavily impacted bay).
- Regional Native Plant Nursery for Habitat Restoration. Gulf Coast Research Laboratory botanists are experimenting with growing saltmarsh plants from the seeds of native Mississippi plants. The goal is to develop procedures for producing plants that are native to Mississippi and that will be readily available for use in restoration projects in Mississippi coastal wetlands. Patrick D. Biber, Ph.D.
- Seagrass Indicators Development. Software applications are under development for predictive indicators of the health of submerged aquatic vegetation for management purposes. Patrick D. Biber, Ph.D.
- Whale Sharks in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Gulf Coast Research Laboratory scientists are currently investigating the seasonal distribution, abundance, movement patterns and habitat requirements of whale sharks in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The goal of this research is to answer basic questions pertaining to whale shark biology and ecology and provide information to enhance the conservation of this species, the largest fish in the world. Jill Hendon
Landscape ecology examines ecosystem dynamics and spatial variation under disturbances such as hurricanes, oil spills, land cover/land use changes, and climate change. Wei Wu, Ph.D.
- Redistribution and loss of coastal wetlands under accelerated sea level rise, climate change and upland land use / land cover change
- Implications of coastal wetland change for ecosystem services and economic values
- Upland land use / land cover change and its impact on coastal processes
- Storm surge simulation
- Coastal resilience and vulnerability to hurricanes
- Water, carbon and nitrogen cycling at coastal forests and high-elevation forests under climate change and atmospheric deposition
- Habitat modeling
- GIS, remote sensing and computer modeling
- Bayesian inference in ecology
Marine EducationThe GCRL Marine Education Center (MEC) is dedicated to teaching about oceans and their impact on human lives. The MEC creates links between GCRL's marine research programs and the public.
- Programs to be listed.
Marine FisheriesMarine fisheries programs investigate oceanic and estuarine animal resources.
- Center for Fisheries Research and Development. The Center's scientists address fisheries issues important to Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico region. Read Hendon
Fisheries ecology quantifies ecological and life-history links between habitat and fish sustainability in marine and coastal ecosystems. Mark Peterson, Ph.D.
- 2012-17, Bureau of Ocean & Energy Management, Environmental Studies Program " Abundance and distribution of commercially important estuarine dependent species populations within the Gulf of Mexico" $1,216,330 over 5 yrs, $243,266 for each team in 2012; $80,000 for USM for 2012 (Co-PI w/R. Hendon, M. O'Connell and S. Powers).
- 2012-14, HUD/Atkins Global, Inc., "Gulf sturgeon monitoring of the Port of Gulfport restoration."
- 2011-13, USACE-ERDC “Habitat utilization of the passes on Ship Island by Gulf sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi year 2.”
- 2012-14, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, ”Restoration and monitoring of striped bass in the tributaries and coastal water of Mississippi” (Co-PI w/L. Nicholson & P. Mickle).
- 2010-14, NOAA, NMFS Protected Species Cooperative Conservation Program, “Identifying feeding habitat for and movement of the juvenile/sub-adult cohort of the Gulf Sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi, in the Pascagoula River estuary, Mississippi.” (with M. Roberts and A. Rohnke).
- 2010-14, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources – Coastal Impacts Assessment Program, “Striped bass restoration for the Mississippi Gulf Coast.” (Co-PI w/L. Nicholson & P. Mickle).
- 2010-14, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources – Coastal Impacts Assessment Program, “Colonization and succession of new habitats: Implications for the success of artificial reefs.” (Co-PI w/P. Biber, K. Dillon, & C. Rakocinski).
The Marine Microbial Ecology Laboratory encompasses culture-based marine research programs and molecular analyses.
- Beach Monitoring Program. In a year-round operation, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory personnel monitor the bacterial water quality of Mississippi's bathing beaches and provide data to the state agency responsible for open and closure of public beaches. Dawn Rebarchik
- Shellfish Sanitation Laboratory. The analysis of sea water samples and oyster meats by Gulf Coast Research Laboratory personnel provides data on bacterial levels of oyster-growing waters to the state agency responsible for decisions on open and closure of oyster harvest areas. Dawn Rebarchik
Marine pathology investigates the infectious diseases of wild and farmed marine organisms.
- Shrimp Disease Research. Investigations of diseases of wild and aquaculture shrimp are conducted through the Crustacean Disease Laboratory at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. Jeffrey M. Lotz, Ph.D.
The parasitology group at the GCRL has been directed by Dr. Robin Overstreet since 1969. Dr. Overstreet leads an active group of scientists and four Ph.D. students. Most of their work involves parasitic flatworms or flukes, known to scientists as the Trematodes, a class of parasitic worms in the phylum Platyhelminthes.
- Toxicogenomics. The research of the Aquatic Research Consortium combines genomics and molecular toxicology to find correlations between toxicants and nutrient overload and changes in the genetic profiles of exposed estuarine organisms. The identification of such "biomarker" responses to environmental stressors such as hypoxia and chemical contaminants gives resource managers the information and tools needed for making science-based decisions. Joe Griffitt