News from UMCES

Underwater grass comeback bodes well for Chesapeake

The Susquehanna Flats, a large bed of underwater grasses near the mouth of the Susquehanna River, virtually disappeared from the upper Chesapeake Bay after Tropical Storm Agnes more than 40 years ago. However, the grasses mysteriously began to come back in the early 2000s. Today, the bed is one of the biggest and healthiest in the Bay, spanning some 20 square miles. A new study by scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Horn Point Laboratory explores what’s behind this major comeback. 

Citizen scientist project recognized for tracking leaf changes on poplar trees

An Appalachian Laboratory project that engages citizen scientists to record observations of trees has been recognized by the White House for their efforts in collaborating with the public on climate change research. Volunteers are tracking when the leaves come out on the trees in the spring and when they begin to turn colors in the fall to help understand how climate change is affecting two poplar tree species.

Travel the Chesapeake Bay with science at the Horn Point Laboratory Open House October 11

The Horn Point Laboratory invites the public to take part in its annual free Open House from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 11, 2014. Located on the banks of the Choptank River on Maryland's Eastern Shore, the laboratory is renowned for its study of marine ecosystems. The theme for this year’s event is “Travel the Bay with Science.” It features exhibits by the laboratory’s scientists of their investigations in the Chesapeake Bay and coastal areas along the Atlantic Coast.

New Environmental Statistics Collaborative to offer state-of-the-art research and consulting services

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) announces the establishment of the Environmental Statistics Collaborative (ESC), a new initiative that will offer state-of-the-art education in environmental statistics to UMCES graduate students, provide research expertise to faculty researchers, and offer consulting services to partners in the scientific and natural resource management community. The Institute will open in August 2014 for consulting and research services and will teach its first course for students in January 2015.

With 'biological sunscreen,' mantis shrimp see the reef in a whole different light

In an unexpected discovery, researchers at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science have found that the complex eyes of mantis shrimp are equipped with optics that generate ultraviolet (UV) color vision. Mantis shrimp's six UV photoreceptors pick up on different colors within the UV spectrum based on filters made from an ingredient other animals depend on as built-in biological sunscreen, according to research reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on July 3.

Ratcliffe Foundation grant supports business leadership program for students at Institute of Marine & Environmental Technology

The Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation has awarded the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) a three-year, $600,000 grant to initiate the Ratcliffe Environmental Entrepreneurs Fellowship Program. This new effort has been formed to help young scientists cultivate the leadership and business skills necessary to bring their bench research into commercial markets. 

NOAA, partners predict slightly above average ‘dead zone’ in Chesapeake Bay

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Also anticipate average hypoxia for Gulf of Mexico

Scientists are expecting a slightly above average “dead zone” in the Chesapeake Bay this year, and an average, but still large, size hypoxic area in the Gulf of Mexico. The forecast for the Chesapeake Bay predicts a slightly larger than average dead zone in the nation's largest estuary.

Chesapeake Bay health holds steady in 2013

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Stormwater runoff proves to be important factor in Bay health

Despite a year of above average rainfall and record heat, the overall health of Chesapeake Bay held steady in 2013, according to scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Overall, the Chesapeake scored a C, nearly the same score as the previous year, which was up from a D+ and C- in previous years.

John D. Porcari joins University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Board of Visitors

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Maryland’s premier research institution aimed at advancing scientific knowledge of the environment, has appointed former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation John D. Porcari to its Board of Visitors. He is currently Senior Vice President and National Director of Strategic Consulting at Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Dr. Jeffrey Cornwell honored with UMCES President's Award

Dr. Jeffrey Cornwell, a professor at the Horn Point Laboratory and an expert in sediments, water quality, and wetlands, has been honored by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science with the President's Award for Excellence in Application of Science. Cornwell was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the understanding of nutrient cycling in the Chesapeake Bay, including his leadership in advising the Maryland Port Authority on the impacts of dredging, the role of oysters in removing nutrients from the water column, and the impact of sedimentation at Conowingo Dam.

UMD and UMCES to award joint degree in marine and environmental science

For the first time, the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD), a preeminent research institution, will award graduate degrees in marine and environmental sciences jointly with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), one of a few academic institutions in the country with a singular focus on environmental science.

Appalachian Laboratory honors wildlife biologist Tom Mathews

In honor of outstanding contributions to environmental management in Western Maryland, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Appalachian Laboratory has selected wildlife biologist and avid outdoorsman Tom Mathews as recipient of its 2014 Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Award. Boasting 28-year career with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Mathews has been a longtime champion of the natural world and continues to be an environmental steward.

Appalachian Laboratory hosts Open House - Saturday, May 3

Join the team to help restore the American Chestnut tree, learn about critters found in Maryland’s forests, and talk to experts about brook trout and fracking at a free Open House at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Appalachian Laboratory. On Saturday, May 3 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., learn about science with hands-on experiments for the whole family, meet the scientists working in your community, and enjoy a GPS cache hunt outside.

IMET wins $500,000 in global innovative carbon use competition

Algae from the Chesapeake Bay could be key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Institute of Marine and EnvironmentalTechnology (IMET) has been named a winner in the first round of the Change and Emissions Management Corporation's (CCEMC)’$35 million international Grand Challenge: Innovative Carbon Uses for its work in using algae to capture carbon dioxide.

Appalachian Laboratory scientists receive highest university award

The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents has selected two faculty members from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science—Dr. Keith Eshleman and Dr. Andrew Elmore­—to receive the 2014 USM Regents’ Faculty Award, the highest honor that the Board bestows to recognize exemplary faculty achievement. This is the first time that two of the Center’s faculty members have been honored in the same year.

Seagrass expert Evamaria Koch remembered

Dr. Evamaria Wysk Koch, of Easton, passed away on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 9 PM at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore from complications of lung cancer.  Like many other lung cancer victims, she had never smoked and she maintained a healthy lifestyle.  By the time the cancer was detected in July of 2013, it had progressed too far for surgery and chemotherapy ultimately failed.

Science shows restoration efforts can improve local water quality in the Chesapeake Bay

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Case studies show best management practices have lowered pollution

Pollution-reducing practices can improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams, according to new research. A number of case studies show that “best management practices”—including upgrading wastewater treatment plants, lowering vehicle and power plant emissions, and reducing runoff from farmland—have lowered nutrients and sediment in local waterways. 

Scientists discover key hormone that makes it possible for female crabs to mate and care for their young

Those two crooked beady eyes peeking out of the shell do more than just help blue crabs spot food in the murky waters of the Chesapeake Bay. They also produce important hormones responsible for the growth and development of a crab from an adolescent into a full-fledged adult. Scientists at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology in Maryland recently discovered a new hormone in those eyestalks responsible for forming body parts that make it possible for female crabs to mate and raise young.

Lessons learned restoring the Chesapeake will help leaders clean up Rio's Guanabara Bay

Knowledge gained by Maryland scientists who have studied the Chesapeake Bay for decades will soon be shared with leaders in Brazil to help clean up of Rio's Guanabara Bay.

Multiple mates worth the risk for female prairie dogs

Mating with more than one male increases reproductive success for female prairie dogs, despite a greater risk of predation and increased exposure to diseases and parasites. So why would a female prairie dog take the risk? The answer is simple: female prairie dogs that mate with two or more males rear more offspring than those that mate with only one.