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Recent News | Archive

News stories posted in the last 60 days. For information about a story, contact Betsy Boynton.

"News & Views" article on coral-reef degradation published in Nature

USGS Research Marine Biologist Ilsa B. Kuffner describes the significance of new work on the loss of reef-building capacity in the world's coral reefs for the journal Nature. In a "News & Views" article entitled "Sea-level rise could overwhelm coral reefs," she summarizes the work of Perry et al. (2018). published in the same Nature issue, and explains the implications of the group's findings for the management and conservation of the world's coral reef ecosystems. Kuffner describes how Perry et al.'s assessment of the capacity of coral reefs to grow fast enough to keep up with projected rises in sea level finds that most reefs will fall behind if nothing is done to restore them.

posted: 2018-06-18

USGS scientists publish study in the journal, Marine Micropaleontology, that proposes a new proxy for winter sea surface temperatures in the past

Caitlin Reynolds and Julie Richey (Geologists, USGS, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center), along with colleagues from University of South Florida, Oregon State University and University of California Davis, published a paper titled "Environmental controls on the geochemistry of Globorotalia truncatulinoides in the Gulf of Mexico: Implications for paleoceanographic reconstructions." This study uses foraminifera from the long-running (>10 years) Gulf of Mexico Sediment Trap to investigate the geochemical variations in the calcium carbonate shells of G. truncatulinoides, a species of foraminifera that lives in the surface waters of the Gulf of Mexico exclusively during the winter months. The objective of this study was to verify that this species is living within the surface mixed-layer, and to calibrate its trace metal (Mg/Ca) composition to sea surface water temperature. Ultimately, this study shows that the non-encrusted form of this species can be used to reconstruct winter sea surface temperature in the Atlantic Ocean in the geologic record, allowing scientists to reconstruct changes in seasonal climatic extremes in the past.

posted: 2018-06-18

USGS scientists investigate the millennial-scale history of the "Threatened" elkhorn coral in Dry Tortugas National Park

Dr. Lauren Toth (Research Oceanographer, SPCMSC) and Anastasios Stathakopoulos (Oceanographer, SPCMSC) will collaborate with the National Park Service to complete a week-long expedition to Dry Tortugas National Park to study the occurrence of the elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, within the park during the Holocene. The elkhorn coral has been responsible for building wave-breaking, shallow-reef habitats throughout the western Atlantic for hundreds of thousands of years. Despite its historical dominance throughout Florida and the rest of the western Atlantic, this species has been conspicuously absent from the known fossil record of the Dry Tortugas National Park. Recently, however, SPCMSC scientists working on the CREST project discovered extensive deposits of sub-fossil elkhorn on Pulaski Shoal in the northeast part of the park that dated to a period ~4500 to 3500 years ago. On this trip the SPCMSC researchers will conduct a thorough survey of the park to look for previously unrecognized sub-fossil A. palmata, map the extent of the outcrop, and collect additional samples for radiometric dating to better understand the history of elkhorn populations and their role in reef development in the region. Elkhorn is now listed as "Threatened" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act so the insights gained from this study may provide valuable information for the future management and restoration of this species.

posted: 2018-06-06

USGS Scientist invited to speak at Gordon Research Conference

Dr. Christina Kellogg (SPCMSC Research Microbiologist) was invited to give a talk entitled "Microbial Ecology of Mesophotic Coral Reefs" at the 2018 Mesophotic Coral Reef Gordon Research Conference. The conference takes place June 17–22, 2018, at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Mesophotic Coral Reef Ecosystems (MCE) are unique and understudied ecosystems characterized as low-light adapted deep reef communities that occur from ~30–150m. These reefs represent a unique ecosystem and there is a critical need to address many questions regarding the structure and function of MCE communities in their own right, but also to include their ecological role in the resilience of shallow coral reef communities to environmental insults. This conference will attract experts from around the world, as well as students and post-doctoral researchers, to present new data and evaluate the evidence supporting the multiple factors controlling the structure and function of MCE communities worldwide.

posted: 2018-06-06

USGS geologist to serve as panelist at the 2018 State of the Coast Conference

Julie Bernier (SPCMSC geologist) was invited to serve as a panelist for the session "Extraction Related Subsidence and the Potential for Uplift" at the 2018 State of the Coast Conference. As part of the panel, Bernier will give a short presentation titled "Quantifying Wetland-Loss Trends, Processes, and Large-Scale Historical Accommodation Formation in Coastal Louisiana," which summarizes the extensive subsidence research conducted at SPCMSC as part of the Gulf Coast Subsidence project (2000–2011;

posted: 2018-06-01

Waves and surge from Subtropical Storm Alberto will impact Gulf Coast beaches

The USGS National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards storm team is predicting coastal change impacts due to the potential for high waves and elevated water levels along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana through the Florida Panhandle. Predictions will be updated as conditions change and are available in the Coastal Change Hazards Portal.posted: 2018-05-25

USGS Oceanographer publishes study outlining a framework for modeling barrier island responses to regionally specific scenario-based storm impact in Coastal Engineering

Rangley Mickey (SPCMSC Oceanographer) study "A framework for modeling scenario-based barrier island storm impacts" was published in the journal Coastal Engineering. The study proposes a method to generate storm scenarios from regionally, historic estimated total water level. The regionally specific storm scenarios were modeled using the process-based numerical model XBeach to quantify morphologic changes for low and high level scenarios. Process-based modeled scenarios predict 2D changes similar to observed impacts to as-built berm at the Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana. Modeled scenarios highlight areas of proposed/existing feature vulnerable to storm impact which can provide quantitative measures of change to structured-decision making process.

posted: 2018-05-23

USGS Research Microbiologist presents science and participates in science communication at 2018 ASM Microbe Meeting

Christina Kellogg (SPCMSC Research Microbiologist) will present a poster titled "Metagenomic Analysis of the Microbial Community Associated with the Deep-Sea Coral Lophelia pertusa" and give a 10-min talk about it in a session highlighting key posters at the 2018 American Society for Microbiology MICROBE conference, June 6–11, 2018, in Atlanta, GA. Kellogg is also an invited speaker in a science communication session called "The Up Goer Five Challenge: Microbiology in Plain Language" during which she will describe her research using only the 1,000 most used words (Spoiler: these words do not include 'coral,' 'bacteria,' 'microbes,' 'DNA,' or 'ocean'!) Kellogg will also be a guest on a live taping of the popular podcast This Week in Microbiology (TWiM).

To hear previously recorded TWiM episodes, visit

posted: 2018-05-17

Federal Interagency Microbiome Strategic Plan Released

As part of the White House's National Microbiome Initiative, a Microbiome Interagency Working Group (MIWG) was formed in late 2016 with the charge of producing a Federal Strategic Plan for microbiome research. DOI representatives in this group were Camille Hopkins (Ecosystems) and Christina Kellogg (Research Microbiologist, SPCMSC). This plan was just publicly released on April 20, 2018. The American Society For Microbiology (ASM) believes microbiome research should be a priority and supports the Interagency Strategic Plan for Microbiome Research. This important initiative to promote cross-disciplinary research to answer the complex questions about microbiome science is imperative for human and environmental health.

posted: 2018-04-25

USGS Researchers attend 11th Biennial Science Workshop at Fire Island National Seashore

SPCMSC Research Geologist Jennifer Miselis and WHCMSC Research Geologist Erika Lentz will present USGS research at the 11th Biennial Science Workshop organized by the National Park Service (NPS) Fire Island National Seashore (FIIS). The workshop showcases ongoing research in the park and the afternoon session will highlight research that has been undertaken since the landfall of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The workshop is well-attended by the local public and will present an opportunity to engage directly with a variety of stakeholders. The title of the talk is "Understanding Resilience: Measuring, Monitoring, and Modeling Hurricane Sandy Impacts and Recovery from the Nearshore to the Breach to the Beach" and will be presented at the FIIS office in Patchogue, NY.

posted: 2018-04-25

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