Bob (JJ) is a professor of Marine Science in the Department of Biological Sciences at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, School of Marine Science, College of William and Mary. He received his bachelors from Rutgers University, Masters from the University of Virginia and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. He has been involved in seagrass research in the Chesapeake Bay region since 1969 and has been involved with restoration issues since 1978. His current emphasis is on habitat restoration and conservation and understanding the principles and processes governing the persistence, alterations, and dynamics of these plant communities. Bob is also head of the VIMS program that maps underwater grasses baywide annually. His program produces a summary report each year which is now available on the web (http://www.vims.edu/bio/sav/). He is heavily involved with management agencies in the development of policies and laws governing the protection of these important underwater grasses in Chesapeake Bay and the Coastal Bays.
Chesapeake Bay support a diverse assemblage of 10-15 species of submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) whose distributions are generally constrained by salinity. Two species are found in the higher salinity areas with the remaining species found in the lower salinity and freshwater areas of the region. Because of their sensitivity to water quality changes, SAV are being used by resource managers as a sentinel group to reflect management efforts to improve water quality in this region.
An annual aerial SAV monitoring program has been conducted throughout the Chesapeake Bay and the Delmarva Coastal Bays on an annual basis from 1984 through 2015, except for 1988. Black and white photography was acquired at a scale of 1:24,000, following acquisition timing guidelines that optimize visibility of SAV beds with digital imagery used in 2015. Approximately 170 flight lines were flown each year between May and October, yielding over 2,000 photographs or digital images.
Since the 1984, SAV has exhibited long-term (decadal) increases and decreases, as well as some large, single-year changes. Current SAV coverage for almost all segments in the Chesapeake Bay remain below established restoration targets based on historical coverages for each region, indicating that SAV abundance and associated ecosystem services are currently limited by continued poor water quality, and more recently high summertime temperatures for species in the higher saline regions which also has the potential to alter the species distribution in this region. Results are used often in regulatory matters in the Bay, e.g. aquaculture permits,dredging, dock construction. The utility of the survey results are most important in the state regulatory hierarchy as the results are used to assess improving water quality conditions in the Bay.