The Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve (JCNERR) and several partners were awarded a grant to implement the newly-established New Jersey Consortium for Resilient Communities. JCNERR is managed by Rutgers NJAES, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The project, “Barnegat Bay and Great Bays Resilience Observing Network: Tracking the Changing Environment to Inform the Management of Estuarine Resources,” is focused on the integration of climate change research, resiliency planning and date monitoring to inform the proactive adaptation and management of estuarine resources.
JCNERR’ partners in the project are several higher education institutions, including Monmouth University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Stockton University, Montclair University, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers, and the statewide New Jersey Sea Grant Program.
Principal investigators from JCNERR are Michael De Luca, manager, Andrea Habeck, stewardship coordinator, and Amy Plantarich, communications and outreach coordinator.
JCNERR’ role in the project is to provide an improved understanding of the information needs of estuarine resource managers to support proactive resilience strategies. This will include design characteristics of a representative coastal bay observing network, the Barnegat and Great Bays Resilience Observing Network, gaps in existing monitoring data and the development of site specific research models.
To achieve its objectives, JCNERR will first implement a focus group of estuarine resource managers, individuals responsible for the management of fisheries, aquaculture and restoration programs in Barnegat and Great Bays. This first step is an effort to assess the information needs of resource managers to support sustainable management of estuarine resources.
The focus group gatherings will be followed by a survey of the regional research and observing system community in order to identify existing long-term monitoring and observing infrastructure. This activity will lead to the development of predictive models to inform the management of estuarine resources due to climate change impacts in Barnegat Bay and the Great/Bay Mullica River. In addition, this step in the project will lead to the development of a research and observing blueprint to guide future modeling of changing ecosystem dynamics and range shifts in habitats and living resources.
JCNERR’s final role in the project will be to analyze and compile the information gathered from the first two tasks and develop a white paper. This paper will inform a research plan that will result in greater predictive capability for managing estuarine resources in the Barnegat Bay and Great Bay/Mullica River region.
All three tasks of this project will be implemented and completed by June 2022.
JCNERR encompasses more than 115,000 acres of forested uplands, wetlands, aquatic habitats and barrier islands. It is one of the 29 national estuarine reserves created to promote the responsible use and management of the nation’s estuaries through a program combining scientific research, education and stewardship.
This article was originally published by the SEBS/NJAES Newsroom on March 14, 2022.