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Information:

Seagrass Workgroup Meeting, January 10, 2011

Attendees:

Nathan Kuhn (TPWD), Lythia Metzmeir (TCEQ), Marty Kelly (TCEQ), Scot Sullivan (TXDOT), Faye Grubbs (TPWD), Kelly Darnell (UTMSI), Sally Morehead (Mission Aransas NERR), Martha Segura (NPS), Paul Silva (TPWD), Angela Schrift (TPWD), Jim Simons (TPWD), Ed Hegen (TPWD), Paul Zimba (TAMUCC), Jace Tunnell (CBBEP), Joe Meiman (NPS), Jamie Ingold (USGS), Amy Nunez (GLO), Warren Pulich (TX State University - RSI), Eric Hersh (UT-Austin), Beau Hardegree (USFWS), Mark Dumesnil (TNC), Pat Bohannon (TCEQ), Ray Allen (CBBEP), Perry Trial (TPWD), Richard Gonzales (GOMF), Paul Carangelo (Port of Corpus Christi), Pat Radloff (TPWD),  Patrick Larkin (TAMUCC), Cindy Contreras (TPWD), Ken Dunton (UTMSI).

By phone: Barbara Keeler (EPA), Mark Garza (USACE), Hudson DeYoe (UT Pan Am)

All items requiring action by either a workgroup member or the entire workgroup are underlined below.

The next meeting of the Seagrass Monitoring Workgroup will be on April 13, 2011 (Wednesday), at CBBEP's offices in Corpus Christi, from 10 am-1 pm.  Please mark your calendars now for this date.

Updates
Nathan mentioned that Chris Onuf is still working on the proceedings for the Seagrass Conservation Plan Review workshop. There is a possibility that the steering committee might need to meet again.

Field work for TPWD's GLO-funded seagrass monitoring project in Port Bay and East Flats has been completed. The report will be completed and submitted to the GLO by the end of March.

TPWD is evaluating various additional locations for possible designation as state scientific areas. If you would like to contribute to this process, please contact Faye Grubbs at Faye.Berens@tpwd.state.tx.us. The seagrass scar recovery project is ongoing.

Paul Zimba mentioned a project that involves working on consolidating and standardizing macro- and micro-algal taxonomic efforts.

Jim Simons is putting a manuscript together which relates seagrass epiphytes with image analysis techniques.

Richard Gonzales is requesting presenters for the Second Annual World Seagrass Day event on March 4th in Aransas Pass. The Oyster Fest Parade is on March 5th.  Richard also mentioned that he can provide volunteers for coastal environmental monitoring activities.

A Pilot TCEQ Seagrass Monitoring sampling program (Sullivan, Radloff and Bohannon)
An overview of a TCEQ pilot seagrass monitoring program (Pilot Study 1) which was initiated in the fall of 2010 was discussed. The pilot sampling program was based on the 2007 Dunton et al. Draft Seagrass Monitoring Plan. The presenters discussed the modifications made and reasons for those changes. A copy of the presentation and sample of the data generated from the project is attached.

An Overview of Texas Seagrass Monitoring Plan for Texas Coastal Waters (Dunton)

Ken presented new developments associated with his existing TX Seagrass Monitoring Plan (Pilot Study 2). This program is based on the 2007 Draft Dunton et al. Seagrass Monitoring Plan previously presented to the workgroup. The need for partnerships was emphasized since funds and resources are limited. Ken Dunton introduced and discussed the importance of three different collaborators/partners who subsequently presented their role in the project (see below). Copies of the presentations and other information about Pilot Study 2 can be found at http://texasseagrass.org/.

Data Management (Eric Hersh, Center for Research in Water Resources, UT Austin)

Eric discussed a web based method to disseminate information that would be collected via the Seagrass Monitoring Plan (Pilot Study 2). The Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc (CUAHSI) built cyber infrastructure for storing and cataloging hydrologic information (www.cuahsi.org). This resource was proposed as the place where Pilot Study 2's data would be housed. This information will be accessible via the Texas Hydrologic Information System (HIS) which will become live in the near future. This system provides an interface between the database and the user. This database also contains information such as TCEQ's SWQM data. The Texas Digital Library (www.tdl.org) can accept data in its original form, such as an excel worksheet, convert it, and then upload it the state or national system.

Seagrass Monitoring in the Mission-Aransas NERR (Sally Morehead, Reserve Manager)
Sally presented on the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) system. Every NERR has established an ongoing ecological monitoring program. The program has three components: abiotic, biological, and mapping. The Mission - Aransas NERR currently participates in the abiotic (water and weather measurements) monitoring. They are about to start biological monitoring which involves the monitoring of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) and emergent marsh. They are looking to define the range of natural variability and to determine whether any long term changes detected are natural or human induced. Additionally, they are evaluating aerial imagery to determine cover and elevation changes. In 2004, pilot programs were initiated in 18 reserves. From these pilot programs, a peer reviewed monitoring plan was developed. Funding was just received to make this plan operational. The data from this system-wide monitoring program (SWMP) is stored in a centralized data management office. Currently all abiotic parameters are stored in the SWMP system. Funding has not yet been made available to input the biological data into the SWMP system. NERR personnel are planning to work in conjunction with Ken Dunton to collect seagrass data in the system. More information can be found here: http://www.nerrs.noaa.gov/

Seagrass Monitoring in the Padre Island National Seashore (Martha Segura, Program Manager for Inventory and Monitoring and Joe Meiman, National Park Service, Gulf Coast Network)

The inventory and monitoring networks of National Park Service lands are designed to supplement existing programs. The objective is to collect data on a few parameters that can be used as "vital signs". Data from this monitoring is used to make management decisions. Before work begins, they are required to produce a data management plan. All work is peer reviewed by the scientific community. The Neckles et al. (2007) work documents this approach, which will be used in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Neckles, H. A., B. S. Kopp, B. J. Peterson, and P. S. Pooler. 2007.  A hierarchical framework for seagrass monitoring in northeastern estuaries. 19th Biennial Conference of the Estuarine Research Federation, Nov. 4-8, Providence, R. I.

Discussion related to the various presentations
Following the presentations, a good discussion ensued. It was pointed out that TCEQ requires an approved QAPP before any data can be input into their database. The group working on Pilot Study 2 does not currently have a QAPP prepared.Pat Radloff and representatives from the TCEQ agreed to assist the group working on Pilot Study 2 in order to  draft a QAPP.

It was also mentioned that these seagrass monitoring teams need to determine sampling variability in order to make sure that different sampling teams can come up with the same results.

Discussion of future focus of Seagrass Monitoring Workgroup

There was a general discussion about whether the existing focus of the workgroup should change. After much discussion it was determined that the members generally believed that the workgroup should continue operating as it does currently in terms of its role.