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Energy and Environment Directorate

Research Capabilities

Coastal Ecosytem Research

Researchers in PNNL's Marine Sciences Laboratory specialize in identifying and understanding key coastal processes, particularly ecological responses to habitat restoration. We conduct research in coastal restoration, wetlands ecology, juvenile salmon ecology, environmental resource assessment, habitat mapping, dive surveys, remote sensing of coastal environments, harmful algal bloom ecology and sensing, Geographic Information System modeling, and benthic community analysis. Our coastal ecology programs have won national awards.

Our scientists are nationally recognized in the field of coastal ecology and coastal ecosystem restoration. Our special capability in this area is identifying and understanding key ecosystem processes, particularly the responses of fisheries and wildlife to habitat restoration and the potential sources of limitations to restoration success. Our expertise ranges from kelp forests through estuaries to tidal forested swamps. We use our on-site wetlands and seagrass meadows, the unique seawater facilities, seagrass propagation tanks, specialized instruments for streamlining field measurements, fisheries and ecosystem valuations, GIS/remote sensing, and supporting physics and chemistry capabilities in our restoration programs.

Recent legislation pertaining to the Endangered Species Act has necessitated the need for cost-effective strategies to respond to federal requirements while still meeting agency responsibilities. A synthesis of scientific information and analyses, management plans, and obtaining the cooperation of numerous public and private entities and interest groups is required to ensure the success of today's environmental management programs. In this regard, we are uniquely qualified to assist in better understanding multiple natural resource issues, developing guidance tools to assist in management decisions, integrating technical knowledge into management programs, and using principles of adaptive management to ensure a cost-effective, successful monitoring program.

Our research programs have involved seagrass ecology, coastal mapping, benthic primary production, nutrient fluxes, physiology of estuarine plants, effects of pollution, global climate change and ecology of fisheries' resources in nearshore systems. In addition, our facilities are used for evaluating sediment remediation methods and the effects of soil conditions, nutrients, carbon dioxide, temperature, and light on the growth and establishment of plants. This experience has proved to be instrumental in programs involving coastal ecosystem restoration and monitoring.

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Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas