Chesapeake Bay & Maryland

Our renowned scientists have been at the core of understanding changes in the Chesapeake Bay from the disappearance of seagrasses and declines in blue crabs to oyster restoration efforts and the rockfish comeback. We continue to advise our leaders on how to achieve effective environmental policy and natural resource management.

Since the establishment of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in 1925, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science has played a key role in expanding our understanding of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.

UMCES operates under a statutory mandate to “conduct a comprehensive program to develop and apply predictive ecology for Maryland to the improvement and preservation of the physical environment, through a program of research, public service, and education.”

With research facilities in both the headwater and tidal regions of the Bay, UMCES is able study environmental problems within the many different ecosystems found in the Bay watershed. This access allows the Center to provide the best possible scientific analysis to policymakers and natural resource managers.

UMCES regularly provides the scientific foundation for management of the State’s land and waters. Working through established commissions and scientific review panels, our researchers’ expertise helps guide policy on fisheries management, water quality, habitat health and ecosystem restoration.

Supporting sound policy

UMCES helps support sound Bay policy through several partnerships, including:

  • Chesapeake Bay Restoration: UMCES helps provide the scientific foundation behind this statewide effort to track and communicate the Bay’s heath and restoration. Our annual Bay Health Report Card serves as the primary communications tool for reaching watershed residents about the health of their local waters.
  • Fisheries: UMCES researchers provide independent analysis of Bay-related data, including annual blue crab and striped bass population surveys, assessments of stream aquatic health, and water quality sampling. Our oyster expertise has also played a vital role in improving the management of the Bay’s iconic species, while our Horn Point Laboratory oyster hatchery annually provides billions of oyster spat destined for the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Green Ports: UMCES scientists are helping determine the most effective ways to manage materials dredges from the Bay shipping channels and Baltimore Harbor. Our Poplar Island work has helped create new habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife. Through our Maritime Environmental Resource Center partnership with the Port, we have created one of three real-world research centers dedicated to finding new ways to limit the introduction of invasive species through ballast.
  • Chesapeake Bay Program: UMCES researchers help ensure sound science underlies the watershedwide restoration effort through the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee and research faculty co-located at the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office in Annapolis.

Bay Basics