Project Details - All Projects > Contact - Caroline Donovan
Ecocheck is part of the Integration and Application Network, with a focus on ecosystem health reporting. EcoCheck’s primary mission is to enhance and support the science, management, and restoration of Chesapeake Bay.
EcoCheck accomplishes its mission by focusing on integration of geographically detailed assessments and forecasts of Chesapeake Bay ecosystem health and creating timely and scientifically rigorous communication products through data and research synthesis. EcoCheck works with academic, federal and state regulators, and local community groups to develop tools and products to assist decision makers in achieving Chesapeake Bay restoration goals. Recently, EcoCheck’s expertise in report cards and ecological health assessments has been leveraged to develop similar assessments nationally and globally.
A keystone of the Integration and Application Network is effectively communicating science to a broad audience. This one- to three-day course provides participants with a science communication toolbox for effectively communicating their data. At the close of the course, participants will have learned the principles of effective science communication, used hands-on sessions to create their own products (symbols, conceptual diagrams, presentations, newsletters, posters), and gained experience in relevant software programs. These courses are made up of modules and can be tailored to meet the needs of any interested funding agency.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Conservation Program (NOAA-CRCP) is investing significant funding to support a National Coral Reef Monitoring Plan (NCRMP) throughout the U.S. Pacific, Atlantic, and Caribbean coral reef areas. The Integration and Application Network at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (IAN-UMCES) understands that a key component of this plan is periodic national-level status and trends reporting. Such reporting will be required to communicate and evaluate the efficacy of place-based investments in coral reef conservation, and the aligned goals and objectives of the NCRMP (as per the NOAA-CRCP NCRMP, 2014). This grant will fund IAN-UMCES to collaboratively develop and implement this status and trends reporting framework with NOAA-CRCP for two pilot areas, American Samoa and the Florida Keys that will be used to develop and pilot the new reporting framework based on biological, physical and socio-economic monitoring data.
The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) in collaboration with the University of Michigan and funded by NOAA will produce a summer dissolved oxygen forecast for Chesapeake Bay. An annual anoxia forecast will be produced for two periods (early and late summer) and a hypoxia forecast will be produced for the month of July. The results of this forecast will be published on an interactive website and included in a press release. A website will be maintained with communication tools to interpret and illustrate the expected outcomes of the forecast. Additionally, we will participate in the production of a report by summarizing the methodology for calculating the forecasted anoxic volumes.
The purpose of this project is to evaluate recent scientific findings that demonstrate progress towards restoration goals for the Everglades, identify research gaps related to the function of the Everglades ecosystem, and to make recommendations for management decisions based on those findings. This system status assessment will be used to convey these findings for the system as a whole and regions of the Everglades to public resource managers and stakeholders. Findings from this assessment will be evaluated for inclusion in the 2017 System Status Report and the 2020 Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan Report to Congress.
The primary objective of this project is to layout and design one 4-page factsheet, four 2-page factsheets, a final report, and to provide web-ready graphics to the Rookery Bay NERR. This includes designing colors, font, and design elements within each document. A common “branding” will be applied throughout the products so they are separate but related products. To achieve this, the following tasks have been identified and are outlined below. UMCES ability to complete this work within the tasks outlined in these objectives is contingent on frequent contact with Rookery Bay NERR staff.
The primary objective of this project is to collate data, review indicators, and synthesize both to effectively report the health of Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in southwest Florida. Located at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands on the Gulf Coast of Florida, the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve represents one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. The Reserve covers 110,000 acres of mangrove forest, uplands, and open water that hosts hundreds of fish, birds, reptiles, and many other species.
The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Inc. (Alliance) in partnership with the Izaak Walton League of America (League), the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM) at Dickinson College, and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Integration and Application Network (UMCES IAN) will provide technical, logistical, and outreach support for the integration of citizen-based and non-traditional monitoring networks into the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership. The Alliance will serve as overall partnership coordinator, manage the cooperative agreement, serve as liaison to the Chesapeake Bay Program and STAR workgroups, and collaborate with the project partners on citizen volunteer recruitment, training, and tool and resource development. This Coordinator will provide day to day leadership on the many technical activities of the work with input of the project partners. The League will also provide support for recruitment, training, and tool and resource development with a focus in Maryland and Virginia. ALLARM will provide this same support with a focus on the Pennsylvania and New York portions of the Bay watershed. UMCES will focus on data analysis and synthesis. The Alliance will contract with a private firm with IT and database experience to develop an online database and data entry tool.
This project seeks to develop a tool to help watershed organizations evaluate the prevalence of specific desired behaviors in watershed organization audiences. While public engagement and environmental education efforts have been ongoing by members of the Mid-Atlantic Tributaries Assessment Coalition (MTAC) for the last three decades, it remains unclear if positive behaviors (e.g., reduced use of fertilizer, upgrading septic systems, etc.) are increasing, and if they are, what influences decision-making about adoption of the behaviors. This work will rely on voluntary participation in a web-based survey that will make for cost effective data collection and analysis. The survey tool would continue to be available for watershed organizations in subsequent years, allowing continual message adjustment to achieve specific behavior changes.
For over 30 years, citizen science organizations have been a trusted voice and advocate for the health of tributary watersheds to Chesapeake Bay. By engaging citizens in promoting specific Bay friendly actions, these clean water advocates have hoped to improve Bay water quality. However, no comprehensive assessment had been conducted to establish a baseline of current behaviors or measure behavior change. The probability that key stewardship behaviors are occurring and the likelihood that those behaviors will be adopted in the future was the focus of the last year's work. The current project will expand the survey tool that clean water advocates can tailor as needed in order to quantify the use of specific behaviors in their audience. The expansion will increase the reach of the survey, increase the number of key behaviors included in the survey, evaluate the impact of these key stewardship behaviors on Chesapeake Bay restoration, and provide in-depth analysis of the results of the survey. In partnership with OpinionWorks, LLC and other key organizations, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) Integration and Application Network (IAN) is pleased to present this proposal to expand a behavior survey tool that will help evaluate the impact of behaviors on Chesapeake Bay restoration and analyze key behaviors in the watershed currently and in future years.
This project seeks to establish a framework to coordinate efforts among watershed organizations using or planning to use report cards as outreach tools. This project also seeks to develop clear and consistent guidelines and protocols for the development and implementation of report cards by watershed organizations. Protocols will be developed and training provided for sampling and monitoring methodology, data analysis, and science communication. The overall objective is to allow comparability of results from volunteer-based monitoring programs and report cards, and increase the scientific validity of report cards as outreach tools.
Conservation International is a worldwide non-profit dedicated to preserving and conserving the natural world using an integrated approach of natural and social sciences. IAN partners with Conservation International on producing policy briefs (4-page summary documents), reports, and guidebooks, based on their research findings and lessons learned in many areas around the globe.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is developing a new transparency standard for marine waters that will protect the seagrass species found throughout the state. The current standard does not sufficiently protect seagrasses, and the new standard will help DEP identify waters in which transparency is too low for healthy seagrass beds. DEP and IAN convened a workshop of experts to determine what factors affect light in seagrass beds, and what transparency criteria have already been established for individual systems. The resulting newsletter summarizes that workshop and discusses how DEP will use this knowledge to set criteria for seagrasses in Florida.
The primary objective of this project is to collate data, review indicators, and synthesize both to effectively report the health of the Georgia coastal zone in a report card. An ecosystem health report card approach synthesizes environmental data, so that citizens and decision makers can evaluate the overall effects of restoration, conservation, and management activities on water quality and ecosystem condition. This is an important component of conservation and restoration planning, as it is designed to clearly communicate the status of ecosystem health of the Georgia coastal zone to a broad audience.
The Marine Resource Council of East Florida, along with many partners, proposes to develop an ecosystem health report card for the Indian River Lagoon. IAN will help develop by the report card by facilitating a kickoff workshop and producing a framework document for the report card process. Future work will include data analysis, final scores and grades, and producing the report card.
In 2009, Governor Martin O’Malley and Maryland’s General Assembly charged the State with developing a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan that will reduce greenhouse gases 25 percent below a 2006 baseline level by the year 2020. This report provides a detailed overview of Maryland’s Plan, describing Maryland’s vulnerability to climate change and detailing Maryland’s 150-plus Greenhouse Gas Reduction programs and initiatives and their associated benefits.
UMCES worked in partnership with the MDE Office of Communications to help design and edit the existing draft plan to match the style of the Plan’s Executive Summary released earlier in July 2013.
The Mid-Atlantic Tributary Assessment Coalition is a unique and growing group of watershed organizations interested in advancing the use of environmental data from local organizations and citizen scientists for use in report cards and assessments. Using data collected by concerned citizens, IAN has helped to generate multi-year report cards for nine rivers since 2007.
Local watershed monitoring groups use different methods for data analysis and reporting, which results in data that are of variable quality and report cards that are challenging to compare. This project seeks to create uniform sampling and data analysis protocols for non-tidal indicators, by developing consensus among members of the Mid-Atlantic Tributary Assessment Coalition (MTAC). Implementation of the protocols will improve consistency and reliability of data from watershed groups, and will enable direct comparison of results among existing and future groups. This work continues the recently completed protocol for sampling, analysis, and communication of tidal indicators, previously funded by CBT.
The proposed project will expand capacity of local organizations to sustain ecosystem health report cards currently in development, and will design and execute a comprehensive communications and media strategy for report card dissemination and community engagement. With current support from Long Island Sound Futures Fund, and in close collaboration with local partners, UMCES is currently developing the first generation Long Island Sound Ecosystem Health Report Card, and report cards for two local embayment groups. The report cards provide a comprehensive and synthetic assessment of ecosystem health working with local partners, including University of Connecticut, Harbor Watch/Bay Watch in Fairfield/Westport area, and Friends of Hempstead Harbor. Capacity building will include intensive training for partner organizations in Science Communication, Report Card Concepts, and Data Integration. We also will encourage groups currently producing report cards to assist similar efforts in additional areas, which should improve data coverage and quality as they follow common protocols. We will increase the impact of report cards through a deliberate media dissemination campaign, with regular messaging identified by a local committee. The campaign will include print, web, and social media, and dissemination through mailouts, events, and the Internet. Local buy-in from active participants, networking, and leveraging partner connections will be key strategies for dissemination.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Long Island Sound Futures Fund has funded IAN to develop the Long Island Sound Ecosystem Health Report Card project. The project will involve developing a report card for the Long Island Sound itself, as well as report cards for Hempstead Harbor in New York and the Westport/Fairfield embayment in Connecticut. IAN will host a series of workshops and the final products will include a printed report card and an interactive website.
Coastal management in the U.S. is in transition toward a stronger, ecosystem-based approach implemented at the regional scale and supported by strong scientific synthesis and prediction. The division of ecosystem components
among different agencies, scientific disciplines, and political boundaries, as well as the complexities of conducting Regional Ecosystem Research (RER) make effective
ecosystem management very challenging. NOAA's Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Science convened a best practices workshop of approximately 50 national
leaders in coastal research, management, and policy to identify the key elements of an effective RER program and policy actions to enhance future RER efforts. The results from this workshop and follow up interviews is summarized in this report.
To assess the eutrophic conditions for 141 U.S. estuaries based on data and information provided by scientists and experts from around the country. IAN developed an interactive website to collect data and produce automated summaries of eutrophication status as well as print ready graphics for the final report. Report production was a collaborative effort between Suzanne Bricker (NOAA NCCOS), EcoCheck (NOAA-UMCES Partnership) and IAN.
The primary objective of this project is to collate data, review indicators and synthesize both to effectively report the health of Mills Creek. Mills Creek is a small tributary to Sandusky Bay on the south-central shore of Lake Erie. The Mills Creek watershed is largely developed by a combination of urban and agricultural land uses. Mills Creek is also part of a Karst geological region, which is characterized by a series of sinkholes and underground rivers flowing through cracks and cavities in the limestone bedrock. Existing ecological data collected by government and local community groups from Mills Creek and its watershed, provide an excellent platform to develop an annual report card that acts to synthesize, interpret and disseminate this information. Ultimately, the ODNR would like to use this process to improve community and management awareness and understanding of the status of Mills Creek.