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New research projects to focus on coastal resilience

Groton — The Connecticut Sea Grant College Program at the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus announced Tuesday that it will fund three new research projects at UConn focused on enhancing coastal resilience.

The projects will begin in November and be completed within two years. Results of these projects will benefit Connecticut’s coastal communities and economy through a better understanding of the potential benefits of wetland ecosystem restoration, more sustainable resources for recreational anglers, and safer seafood for producers and consumers, Sea Grant said in a news release.

A project by Eric Schultz, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and Jason Vokoun, associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, will develop a stock assessment model for Long Island Sound tautog populations. The goal is to develop more sustainable fisheries management options. Tautog, also known as blackfish, are popular but overfished game fish in the Sound. The researchers will test a series of alternative management strategies for this fishery, taking into account that older, large females produce the most eggs.

A project led by Ashley Helton, assistant professor of natural resources department, and Timothy Vadas, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, will examine how rising sea levels impact the ecosystem functions of coastal wetlands in urban environments, Sea Grant said. They will examine linkages among wetland ecosystem functions and values, land use and the resilience of urban coastal communities. Promoting wetland education and community outreach projects to create future environmental leaders in coastal wetland conservation is an important aspect of the work, Sea Grant said.

A third project will look into factors and patterns such as temperature and salinity that influence Vibrio parahaeomolyticus, a naturally occurring bacterial pathogen that can infect oysters. The goal is to identify and model the susceptibility of shellfish growing areas to Vibrio outbreaks. Ultimately, the aim is to facilitate shellfish management and ensure a safe seafood supply and more resilient commercial shellfishing industry in the state. Investigators are Michael Whitney and Evan Ward, associate professor and professor, respectively, in the Department of Marine Sciences, and Kristin DeRosia-Banick, environmental analyst at the state Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Aquaculture.

With matching funds from other sources, the research package leverages a total of $585,754.

For more information, contact Syma Ebbin, research coordinator, at or (860) 405-9278.



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