Nicholas School Masters Students Present Wetland-related Research at Annual NSOE Symposium

Four wetland-related research presentations were on the program for the Nicholas School of the Environment's Master's Project Symposium Spring 2015, which took place at the Millennium Hotel in Durham on April 2 and 3. All presenters are students in the Master of Environmental Management (MEM) and/or Master of Forestry (MF) residential professional degree programs at the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University. Presentations are a culmination of theoretical and analytical training acquired by the students to natural resource or environmental problems during their two years of study. The final master's project is the capstone piece for MEM and MF students. The master's project could take the form of a management plan, handbook and/or educational curriculum. The project is intended to represent the student's major academic focus, and demonstrates the student's competence in that area [as well as integrating] course work, seminars, independent projects, internships, and other experiences in an in-depth study that culminates in a professional quality report and a formal presentation.

Caitlin Adams, (MEM-CEM); Allison Hensch (MEM-CEM); and Dana Rollison (MEM-CEM)

Development of a Disaster Response Plan for the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve

Advised by: Dr. Lisa Campbell


The North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve (NCNERR) is a network of four protected coastal sites, covering over 10,500 acres, which was established for long-term research, education, and stewardship. Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, five Gulf of Mexico NERRs created comprehensive disaster response plans (DRP) and were the first reserves in the nationwide system to initiate disaster planning. NCNERR deemed that its own DRP was needed to guide emergency management efforts, build better partnerships between NCNERR managers and emergency managers, and position NCNERR as a partner to support area response efforts. Site-specific hazards were identified and ranked in collaboration with NCNERR managers. Facilitated stakeholder workshops brought together all relevant local, state, and federal emergency response personnel and garnered input on potential hazards, impacts, and preparation needs of each NCNERR site. The input from site managers and stakeholders informed the creation of the DRP, which will be included in NCNERR's 2016-2021 Management Plan.


James Burgess (MEM-EE) Xiangyi Li (MEM-EEP) and Siyu Qin (MEM-ESC)

Mangroves in Ecuador: An Application and Comparison of Ecosystem Services Valuation Models

Advised by: Dr. Jeff Vincent


Mangroves provide an abundant supply of ecosystem services such as coastal protection, fish nursery, recreation, and carbon sequestration. After a severe loss of mangroves mainly due to shrimp farming from 1969 to 2000, Ecuador started to realize the importance of mangroves and related ecosystem services, hence leading to a growing interest in ecosystem services valuation (ESV) models that can potentially provide quick assessment with existing data. Working with the Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF), this project identified and evaluated current ESV models, valued and mapped the ecosystem services values of Ecuadorian mangrove with ESV models, and compared the change of values under difference scenarios. Based on results and analyses, suggestions are made on suitable ESVs for mangrove ecosystems, and decision support information are provided to Socio Manglar program of Ministry of Environment of Ecuador.


Chang, Sylvia, (MEM-CEM); Group Members: Ashley Green (MEM-ESC) and Emma Kelley (MEM-CEM)

A Preliminary Assessment of the Blue Carbon Potential of Belizean Mangroves with Ecological, Economic, and Policy Perspectives

Advised by: Drs. Brian Silliman and Brian Murray


Mangrove forests provide a variety of important socio-economic and environmental functions along the intertidal zone of tropical and subtropical coastlines. The extent and health of Belizean mangroves have declined at increasing rates mainly due to elevated pressures from coastal development. Mangrove deforestation leads to loss of important ecosystem services provided by these habitats including the ability to mitigate climate change via the sequestration of carbon. In coastal vegetated ecosystems, this stored carbon has been termed blue carbon. To assess the blue carbon potential of the Belizean mangroves, we employed ecological, economic, and policy approaches. Our final results provide: 1) data on blue carbon patterns in the Caribbean, 2) national blue carbon estimates for Belizean mangroves, 3) an evaluation of how a blue carbon market might compete with alternative land uses in Belize, and 4) blue carbon policy and management recommendations for Belize.


Avery Siciliano, (MEM-EEP)

Developing Guideline for a Blue Carbon Toolkit

Advised by: Dr. Linwood Pendleton


Blue carbon describes the carbon sequestration and ecosystem services associated with coastal habitats including mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes. In countries without established marine protected areas or active restoration efforts, blue carbon may serve as a mechanism for preventing coastal destruction, which increases shoreline vulnerability and negatively affects the species native to these habitats. Additional benefits of blue carbon include increased national and international climate change mitigation efforts. Blue carbon works by creating markets that shift a country's economic incentive away from destructive activities toward protecting their critical ecosystems. This project evaluates the demand for information and current challenges facing the Global Environment Facility's Blue Forests pilot projects in order to provide guidelines for the development of a blue carbon toolkit. This user-friendly toolkit, geared toward project managers and ecologists, will demonstrate various approaches to implement blue carbon incentives, provide guidance in determining which protocols best fit the social and political conditions of their site, and identify field work that may be required to pursue the chosen protocol.

April 13, 2015