ItemListen In: Acoustic Monitoring of Estuarine Communities Facing Ecosystem Change(2021) Biggs, Christopher R.; Montie, Eric W.; Kimball, Matthew E.; Dunn, Robert P.; Boswell, Kevin M.; Transue, Lindsey ItemClimate change in the Mission-Aransas Reserve : Evaluating vulnerability of coastal ecosystem and communities using long-term data sets and development of relevant adaptation strategies. Phase 1 : Technical Report.(2015-06) Xue, Jianhong; Stanzel, Kiersten; Palmer, Sally (Marine scientist); Buskey, Edward Joseph, 1952-This report assesses the long-term impacts of climate changes, such as temperature and precipitation, on the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve fisheries and bird species, in the past several decades. Increasing annual water temperatures and declining annual precipitation were observed in the Reserve since 1978. More than 30 years of fisheries-independent data from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department were analyzed, along with bird count data that has been collected since 1949 as part of the National Audubon Society ‘Christmas Bird Count’. Six out of the 61 fish species, and nineteen out of more than 180 bird species were identified as being more impacted by either winter freezes (fish = average minimum temperature of coldest week; bird = coldest temperature Dec 14 – Jan 5) or precipitation (fish = summer drought; birds = second half of the year precipitation for birds) on their abundances (both fish and bird) or average length (only fish) than other species in this region. This report strengthens our understanding of climate variables and their potential impact on the ecology the Mission- Aransas Estuary, and it also helps to identify climate change vulnerability assessment targets for adaptation planning. ItemMission-Aransas Watershed Social Vulnerability Analysis : Using Principal Component Analysis as an Indexing Tool for Social Vulnerability(2015-10-30) Wade, Heather; Stanzel, Kiersten ItemAssessing the Effects of Freshwater Inflows and Other Key Drivers on the Population Dynamics of Blue Crab and White Shrimp Using a Multivariate Time-Series Modeling Framework(Department of Marine Science, 2015-09) Buskey, Edward J.; Xue, Jianhong; Scheef, Lindsay P.Natural freshwater inflow (FWI) from rivers, streams, and rainfall maintains nutrients, sediments, and salinity regimes within estuaries. These factors, together, produce a healthy and sustainable estuary for juvenile and adult finfish and invertebrates that utilize an estuary for foraging, refuge, and reproduction. Other key drivers, such as droughts and human contributed impacts have negative effects on estuaries. Reduced FWI can affect the population dynamics of commercially and ecologically important species such as blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, and white shrimp, Litopenaeus setiferus. Past studies have indicated that less FWI is reaching the Texas coast, but little work has been done to evaluate the impacts of inflow variability on focal species inhabiting Mission-Aransas and Guadalupe estuaries. This two-part report 1) reviews studies related to blue crab and white shrimp abundances in the Mission-Aransas and Guadalupe estuaries, and 2) describes a multivariate autoregressive (MAR) analysis of the long-term Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) fisheries independent survey species abundance data done to assess the effects of FWI and other potential drivers on local abundances of blue crab and white shrimp in the Mission-Aransas and Guadalupe estuaries. ItemApplications of GIS Methods for Environmental Learning in South Texas(2007) Young, Lauren P.; Smith, ElizabethWith the application of GIS being utilized in a variety of disciplines, it is appropriate that these new techniques should be incorporated into the classroom. In developing strategies for teaching with GIS in geography, earth science, and environmental studies in South Texas, teachers are offered another opportunity for innovative techniques to reach their students. By using an expanded approach from the ESRI book, Mapping Our World-GIS Lessons for Educators, selected topics will be presented to illustrate the design, development, and application of the approach. The following topics are targeted for development within the project: introductory GIS skills, climate, hydrology, wetlands, migratory birds, fisheries, and vegetation using regional and local datasets. This specialized learning experience will allow rural communities to increase their regional geographic knowledge, while also integrating state knowledge skills required at each grade level. ItemThe Texas National Estuarine Research Reserve : site nomination and application for predesignation assistance : October 15, 2003(2003-10-15) University of Texas Marine Science Institute; Montagna, Paul A.; Morehead, Sally; Hyde, LarryThis document describes the process and outcome of the work to nominate a site within the Texas coastal zone for the of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS). The NERRS program is administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as authorized under Section 315 of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972. The overall mission of this program is to promote stewardship of the nations estuaries through science and education using a system of protected areas. Although national in scope, individual sites are state owned and managed with oversight and coordination provided by NOAA. The selection of a candidate Texas National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) site was initiated by the University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI). The University of Texas at Austin sought the assistance of the Texas General Land Office (GLO) to coordinate the site selection process and prepare the site nomination package. The site selection process was accomplished through the work of two standing committees, tasked with identifying, evaluating, and selecting a candidate site, as well as developing appropriate local, state, federal, and private partnerships that will ultimately define the NERR. The Site Selection Committee (SSC) provided overall guidance to the process and the Site Evaluation Subcommittee (SES) provided technical guidance in evaluating sites. Membership in both committees included individuals from state and federal agencies, state, federal and local public officials (state officers and legislators), academic institutions, private groups (e.g., private industry and environmental groups), and the general public. The process also included a public hearing to solicit comment and input from local residents and landowners in Rockport, Texas. The proposed Texas NERR site was selected from a group of 65 sites, within the Western Gulf of Mexico biogeographical subregion of the Louisianian Biogeographic Region, that represent key estuarine areas within the state's coastal zone. The proposed site (236,641 acres) consists of a combination of approximately 166,131 acres of state-owned coastal habitat, including estuarine intertidal marsh and shallow open-water bottoms and approximately 66,718 acres of estuarine marsh and non-tidal coastal plain habitat that is part of the Aransas and Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge. The site also encompasses the Buccaneer Ranch Cove Preserve (279 acres), a 257 acre parcel under conservation by The Nature Conservancy (Johnson Ranch), and a 3,256 acre private parcel (Fennessey Ranch) bordered on three sides by the Mission River that is proposed by the owner as a conservation area. The entire proposed site includes a diverse suite of estuarine and non-estuarine habitats (many of high quality) that form an intact coastal watershed. The site also includes a number of archaeological sites (i.e., indian middens) and supports significant faunal and floral components. The site is relatively rural with limited industrial and community impacts. Upon acceptance of the Texas NERR nomination by NOAA, UTMSI will proceed with development of drafts of an Environmental Impact Statement and Management Plan for the site. It is anticipated that appropriate management agreements will be developed during this phase of site designation to address the educational, research and management objectives of the NERR. The overall goals, objectives, and policies of the Texas NERR will be scoped during the Environmental Impact Statement process and addressed in the Management Plan. Landholding partnerships in the Texas NERR are anticipated to include: USFWS (federal), GLO, TxDOT, TPWD, Coastal Bend Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and the Fennessey Ranch. Local administrative partnerships in the Texas NERR are anticipated to include: Aransas County, and the City of Rockport ItemFinal Evaluation Findings, Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, May 2006 through April 2011(2011-08) National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationThe Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972, as amended, established the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS). Sections 312 and 315 of the CZMA require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conduct periodic performance reviews or evaluations of all federally approved National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERRs). The review described in this document examined the operation and management of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (MANERR or the Reserve) during the period from its designation in May 2006 through April 2011. The Reserve is administered by the University of Texas Marine Science Institute (MSI). This document describes the evaluation findings of the Director of NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) with respect to the Mission-Aransas NERR during the review period. These evaluation findings include discussions of major accomplishments as well as recommendations for program improvement. The fundamental conclusion of the findings is that the State of Texas is adhering to the programmatic requirements of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System in its operation of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve. The evaluation team documented a number of Mission-Aransas Reserve accomplishments during this review period. Within just the five years since designation, the Reserve has assembled a highly respected and knowledgeable staff, has formed numerous partnerships and collaborations that strengthen the Reserve’s outreach and program effectiveness, and has successfully built facilities and infrastructure to establish the Reserve’s presence in both the community and on the Marine Science Institute campus. This includes the Estuarine Research Center, the Wetlands Education Center, and the Bay Education Center. Since 2006 the Reserve has successfully developed several programs that support the national system. Infrastructure to support the System-wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) was completely established and implemented within a year of designation. Direct services to local decision-maker audiences were established through the implementation of a Coastal Training Program as well. At the regional level, the Reserve is participating with the other four Gulf coast reserves to support priority issues of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, and has held climate changerelated workshops addressing community resilience and a very well-received ‘living shorelines’ workshop. The submerged aquatic vegetation and emergent marsh biomonitoring program at the Reserve is leading to the establishment of a statewide seagrass monitoring plan, while a project to assist planners and resource managers in applying ecosystem-based management principles to land use planning has created more demand for training of this type. The evaluation team also identified areas where the Reserve and its programming could be strengthened. Because the Reserve is located on the MSI campus, which has had a well established presence since 1941, and because the Reserve staff and MSI staff and faculty work together seamlessly on so many programs, the Reserve’s identity is, to many people, virtually indistinguishable from that of MSI. The Mission-Aransas NERR’s identity and its contributions locally and nationally should be clearly and consistently recognized and acknowledged by the MSI. Select MSI staff also should be given access to the “Grants Online” process, to prevent delays and confusion that sometimes arise when dealing with CZMA awards and actions for the Reserve. Finally, the Reserve should consider how to make greater use of the expertise and interests of Reserve Advisory Board members to support the Reserve’s goals and objectives. ItemDraft programmatic environmental impact statement : Federal approval of the Texas national estuarine research reserve and management plan, the Mission-Aransas estuary(2005-08) University of Texas Marine Science InstituteThe University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) with an endorsement by Governor Rick Perry of Texas, have submitted a nomination to designate parts of the Mission-Aransas Estuary as a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR). With passage of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (CZMA), the Federal government officially recognized the national significance of coastal resources and authorized the Federal Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP) and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS). In response to the CZMP, the state of Texas established the Texas Coastal Management Program (CMP), which was federally approved by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1997. The Texas CMP coordinates state, local, and Federal programs for the management of Texas coastal resources. Both the CZMP and NERRS are administered by NOAA. Since 1972, parts of twenty-six estuaries have been designated in the NERRS. The NERRS works with existing Federal and state authorities to establish and operate research reserves and provide for their long term stewardship ItemFinal programmatic environmental impact statement : federal approval of the Texas National Estuarine Research Reserve and Management Plan : the Mission-Aransas Estuary(2006-02) University of Texas Marine Science InstituteThe University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) with an endorsement by Texas Governor Rick Perry, have submitted a nomination to designate parts of the Mission-Aransas Estuary as a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR). With passage of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (CZMA), the federal government officially recognized the national significance of coastal resources and authorized the federal Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP) and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS). In response to the CZMP, the state of Texas established the Texas Coastal Management Program (CMP), which was federally approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1997. The Texas CMP coordinates state, local, and federal programs for the management of Texas coastal resources. Both the CZMP and NERRS are administered by NOAA. Since 1972, parts of twenty-six estuaries have been designated in the NERRS. The NERRS works with existing federal and state authorities to establish and operate research reserves and provide for their long term stewardship. ItemEmploying the Conservation Design Approach on Sea-Level Rise Impacts on Coastal Avian Habitats along the Central Texas Coast(2014-06) Smith, Elizabeth H.; Chavez-Ramirez, Felipe; Lumb, Luz; Gibeaut, JamesThe Gulf Coast Prairie LCC (GCPLCC) encompasses one of the most diverse ecoregions in the United States and into Mexico, encompassing 121 million acres with 500 species of birds in four ecoregions (Figure 1) (Bartush 2013). Declines in habitat quantity and quality as well as fragmentation of once-contiguous native habitats threaten to impact biological diversity and ecosystem health. In a recent assessment of the Gulf Coast Prairie ecoregion, 6% is managed by federal and state agencies and 8.3% by county, nongovernmental and other entities. The remainder of the landscape is owned and managed privately, a practice that has been honored for multiple generations (TNC 2002). As urban and industrial development continues to convert native habitats to development areas, the potential impacts from climate change are converting emergent and submergent habitat types to open water. The low-lying areas along the coast provide a narrow fringe of productive coastal environments that fulfill the ecological requirements for a broad diversity of coastal species. Broad-scale habitat loss and degradation has resulted in the decline of many species’ populations. This issue is of particular concern when the key component of a species’ life cycle is dependent on these coastal environments. ItemFreshwater Inflows: Determining Flow Regimes in the Face of Land Use Change, Climate Change, and Other Unknowns(2015-07-27) Tunnell, Jace; Buskey, Edward J.; Peterson, TarlaA team led by the Mission Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) received a grant to conduct research that will inform freshwater inflow recommendations for the Guadalupe-San Antonio and Mission-Aransas Estuaries and address the needs of estuaries and the growing communities that depend on them. The team used collaborative methods to bring stakeholders together to identify and fill gaps in knowledge related to freshwater inflows. Specifically, the project addressed the effects of land use and climate change on freshwater inflows, the circulation of freshwater within and between estuaries, and the effects of freshwater inflow and salinity on commercially and biologically important estuarine dependent organisms. The overall goal of this project was to improve the quality of environmental flow recommendations for the Guadalupe-San Antonio and Mission-Aransas Estuaries by collaborating with local stakeholders and scientists to prioritize research needs in the BBASC adaptive management plan and address research questions to provide additional information and data for the Senate Bill 3 adaptive management process. The collaborative process identified four objectives, the results of which are summarized in this report. ItemIntegrated Land-Sea Planning: A Technical Guide to the Integrated Land-Sea Planning Toolkit. EBM Tools Network(2009-08-14) Crist, P.; Madden, Kiersten; Varley, I.; Eslinger, D.; Walker, D.; Anderson, A.; Morehead, Sally; Dunton, KennethCoastal ecosystems contain a rich diversity of species and habitat types that provide an abundance of the world’s natural resources (WRI, 2000). These coastal ecosystems also maintain a wealth of economic activity associated with recreation and tourism, waterborne commerce, and energy and mineral production. This economic activity has been one of the driving forces behind increased population growth in coastal communities. However, the activities that make coastal communities so desirable are the same activities that threaten many of our coastal natural resources. As a result, resource managers face the difficult challenge of balancing increasing human uses of coastal ecosystems with environmental protection. Several estimates suggest that populations along the coast have doubled over the past twenty years and that approximately half of the world’s population, or three billion people, currently live within 200 kilometers of the coast. As a result of this population growth, many coastal ecosystems are threatened by pollution, habitat degradation and loss, overfishing, invasive species, and increased coastal hazards such as sea-level rise (WRI, 2000; Hinrichsen, 1998; National Safety Council, 1998). The increasing population density of coastal areas, combined with a fast-growing economy (Colgan, 2004), makes the task of managing coastal resources more difficult. With the world’s coastal population expected to continue increasing, the ability to minimize impacts from population growth is essential. An integrated land-sea planning approach can help mitigate many of the potential problems associated with increased human activity in coastal communities by addressing the human use of land, freshwater, and marine resources while also working to maintain the integrity of terrestrial, aquatic, and marine/estuarine ecosystems. This planning approach, however, requires a significant commitment from planners and resource managers to conduct collaborative planning, while also requiring the participation of scientists and technologists (e.g., GIS analysts and database managers). To assist in the integrated planning process, a technological toolkit has been developed to guide ecosystem assessment and planning within and across disciplines and ecosystems. This publication is intended to guide users in the application of the integrated land-sea toolkit and facilitate this type of planning approach. There is a large body of published work on the science and planning process for each aspect of the toolkit and each tool is accompanied by documentation and publications. Therefore, this guide does not attempt to replicate the contents of those publications nor exhaustively reference them. It is strictly designed to explain the process for implementing an integrated land-sea planning approach through the interoperation of three decision support tools. Users of the toolkit are expected to obtain the appropriate references, training, and support as needed for their particular applications, experience, and capacity. While this toolkit is described as an integrated land-sea planning toolkit it is also fully suited to inland watershed applications where the effect of land use/management on aquatic ecosystems is of interest. ItemDevelopment of a Comprehensive Habitat Map for the Mission Aransas NERR Using the NERRS Habitat Classification Scheme: Matagorda Island, Texas(2007-08) Beyer, Tami G.; Rasser, Mike; Morehead, SallyThe National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) developed a new hierarchical classification scheme to standardize mapping techniques and terminology throughout all its reserves. The Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) obtained habitat information from various sources and reclassifed habitats according to the NERRS scheme using a geographic information system (GIS). Mapping the Mission-Aransas NERR manually at a high spatial resolution was desired, but proved challenging because of its considerable size (185,708 acres) and limited accessibility to privately-owned land areas. Existing digital habitat information was identified and obtained from partner agencies in an effort to create a comprehensive habitat map of the Mission-Aransas Estuary and the adjacent watersheds. Geospatial habitat information available within the Mission-Aransas Estuary and the adjacent watersheds were identified and assessed for appropriateness of this project by the following attributes: scale, resolution, habitats identified, location, accuracy, accessibility, and temporal relevance. The University of Texas at Austin Bureau of Economic Geology (UT BEG) had a high–resolution habitat dataset of the wetlands on Texas barrier islands. A portion of this data on Matagorda Island is within the Mission-Aransas NERR boundary and was used as a case study for reclassifying data to the NERRS classification scheme. The Matagorda Island data were provided to the Mission-Aransas NERR in vector (polygon) format, and this document outlines the procedures used to reclassify this type of data. However, vector data is not the only type of data available, and an additional method of reclassification using a raster format was also explored. This document demonstrates the process of vector and raster data reclassification for geospatial habitat information. The Matagorda Island wetlands data were originally classified using the Cowardin classification scheme, which implemented codes describing specific habitats to the modifier level (Cowardin et al.1979). Reclassification of this data from a Cowardin scheme to the NERRS scheme required the data be organized into a hierarchical database structure. A look-up table was created to compare the two classification schemes. Reclassification of the vector data required the application of the join-relationship tool supplied within the GIS environment. Reclassification of the raster data required the application of the reclassification tool supplied within the GIS environment. One of the major differences in the NERR coding system to the Cowardin classification is that upland habitat is described in great detail. Since the Matagorda Island data only contained wetland habitat information, several NERR codes were not correlated to this dataset. This report documents the methods, challenges, and recommendations of reclassifying existing data to the NERRS classification scheme. It represents the first phase in the creation of a comprehensive high resolution habitat map. Future work will incorporate additional datasets for complete coverage of the Mission- Aransas NERR habitat areas ItemThe Ecology and Sociology of the Mission-Aransas Estuary : An Estuarine and Watershed Profile(2012) Evans, Anne; Madden, Kiersten; Palmer, SallyThe Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) is one of 28 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. The purpose of this document is to provide researchers and resource managers with an adequate basis of knowledge to further development of scientific studies and applied management investigations. This document describes the different physical ecosystem components, ecological processes, habitats, and watersheds of the Reserve. The Mission-Aransas NERR is a complex of wetland, terrestrial, and marine environments. The land is primarily coastal prairie with unique oak motte habitats. The wetlands include riparian habitat, and freshwater and salt water marshes. Within the water areas, the bays are large, open, and include extensive wind tidal flats, seagrass meadows, mangroves, and oyster reefs. This site profile describes each habitat by their location, type, distribution, abundance, current status and trends, issues of concerns, and future research plans. Research within the Mission-Aransas NERR seeks to improve the understanding of the Texas coastal zone ecosystems structure and function. Current research includes: nutrient loading and transformation, estimates of community metabolism, water quality monitoring, freshwater inflow, climate change and fishery habitat. Harmful algal blooms, zooplankton, coliform bacteria, submerged aquatic vegetation, and marsh grass are monitored through the System- Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP). This document also describes the climate, hydrography and oceanography, geology, water quality, and endangered species within the Mission-Aransas ItemAn Assessment of Little Bay Water Quality and Seagrass Monitoring Program(The University of Texas Marine Science Institute, 2015) Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve ItemMission-Aransas NERR Ecosystem Based Management Tool Demonstration Project : An Integrated Approach to Land Use Planning in Aransas County(The University of Texas Marine Science Institute, 2011-11-18) Madden, Kiersten; Morehead, Sally ItemAssessment of Little Bay sediment and water quality in relation to indices of seagrass condition(The University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute, 2010-11-30) Dunton, Kenneth H.; Wilson, Christopher James, 1985- ItemCoastal Training Market Analysis and Needs Assessment : Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve : Final report.(The University of Texas Marine Science Institute, 2009-01-09) Leister, Chad; Morehead, Sally ItemCommunity characterization of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve and Surrounding Areas(The University of Texas Marine Science Institute, 2007-05) Morehead, Sally; Beyer, Tami G.; Dunton, Kenneth H.