UMCES Annual Report 2018

April 2, 2019

From the mountains to the sea, from genes to ecosystems...

Find out how UMCES provides the science for policymakers to address the pressing environmental issues in our communities in our latest annual report. 

Read more HERE:

  • Message from President Peter Goodwin
  • Feature story on "Science to inform policy development" (below)
  • Year in Review
  • Research Highlights
  • Graduate Program
  • Thanks to the contributors who make our work possible


UMCES provides the science for policymakers to address the pressing environmental issues in our communities 

While it’s widely understood that climate change affects temperature, rainfall, and sea level rise, UMCES is looking for answers to questions critical to the region’s future. How will increased climate variability and its increase of “wet years” and “dry years” impact Chesapeake Bay restoration? How will sea-level rise impact coastal ecosystems across the country? And, how can the State of Maryland adapt to these changes? 

An essential part of Maryland’s scientific community since 1925, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is recognized as an independent source of expertise that has been helping Maryland better understand and protect its natural resources, from the Appalachian mountains to the Atlantic coast, from genes to ecosystems. 

UMCES has a rich tradition of scientific innovation and discovery that has supported the citizens and agencies of the State of Maryland for nearly 100 years.

Our renowned scientists have been at the core of discovery in understanding changes in the Chesapeake Bay, from recording its decline to recommending actions that restore water quality, seagrasses, oysters, blue crabs, and rockfish. We continue to advise our leaders on how to achieve effective environmental policy and natural resource management. 

As one of the 12 universities in the University System of Maryland, UMCES has a state-mandated mission to “develop and apply predictive ecology for Maryland for the improvement and preservation of the physical environment, through a program of research, public service, and education.” 

From the mountains to the sea, from genes to ecosystems

From the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay to the ocean, scientists conduct research on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in Maryland and around the world.

UMCES provides an invaluable source of information to the Maryland General Assembly, State and federal agencies, and local governments, as well as the private and non-profit sector. We are often called upon to provide analysis and testimony on environmental bills that require scientific input and interpretation.

Our faculty have provided much-needed expertise in helping Maryland with blue crab management; studies on striped bass, menhaden, and sturgeon; dredge material management and the restoration of Poplar Island; studying green ports and how to reduce introduced species; and understanding emerging energy sources and their impacts on wildlife and greenhouse gas emissions. 

By collaborating with colleagues and providing institutional support to policymakers, UMCES scientists and graduate students are rising to the challenge of understanding the regional effects of climate change and charting a path to a more sustainable future.

Maryland is unique to have a public university devoted entirely to scientific discovery and education of the environment. With locations across the state, from the Appalachian Laboratory in Frostburg to the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons to the Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge to the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology in Baltimore, we are able to study multiple ecosystems.

Chesapeake Bay Restoration

For more than a decade, UMCES' Integration & Application Network has been reporting on progress in Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts with its annual report card.

UMCES has played an essential role in the decades-long Chesapeake Bay restoration effort, providing the scientific foundation that has supported measurable improvements in its water quality, fisheries, and ecological health. Our annual Bay Health Report Card serves as the primary communications tool for reaching watershed residents about the health of their local waters.

Our scientists led research that has documented the unprecedented comeback of underwater grasses in Chesapeake Bay, a signal of improving water quality, and found that pervasive dead zones are beginning to break up earlier, reflective of the way the Bay used to react to summer algal blooms. UMCES scientists have also been examining all aspects of the impact of Conowingo dam on the upper bay, from nutrient levels to impacts of sediment on underwater grasses, and how recent increases in rain will impact the Bay’s recovery. 


World leaders in understanding fisheries, UMCES' scientists monitor menhaden to rockfish to help the state develop sustainable stock management plans.

Our researchers—international leaders in fisheries science—provide independent analysis of Bay-related data, including annual blue crab and striped bass population surveys that recommend catch limits to keep the fisheries sustainable, assessments of stream aquatic health and water quality sampling, and numerous studies on biology, ecology, and populations of fish including Atlantic sturgeon, menhaden, and others.

Our oyster expertise has played a vital role in improving the management of the Bay’s iconic species. The Horn Point Laboratory oyster hatchery, the largest oyster culture facility on the East Coast, annually provides billions of oyster spat destined for tributaries in the Chesapeake Bay. UMCES researchers recently assisted the Maryland Department of Natural Resources with the first comprehensive population assessment of the oyster stock in 135 years while also piloting an innovative consensus-building effort to bring various stakeholders together to develop a sustainable management plan.

Sea Level Rise

UMCES provides sea-level rise projections for Maryland's coastal areas to study the impact of rising waters and the ability of our coastal communities to respond. Photo by Amy Pelsinsky.

Maryland, with 3,100 miles of tidal shoreline, is one of the most vulnerable states to sea-level rise. UMCES works with State agencies to provide science-based sea-level rise projections for Maryland's coastal areas and continues to study the impact of rising waters and the ability of our coastal communities to respond. The State of Maryland has relied on these scientific assessments for its planning purposes to invest wisely in facilities while supporting coastal management for the communities along the shoreline.