Chesapeake Bay and South Texas Seagrass Modeling
Historically, the Chesapeake Bay had lush seagrass beds that dominated much of the shallow and even some of the deeper waters. Reports from the early 1800’s recorded submerged macrophytes at depths of 20ft or more. Today, seagrass in the Chesapeake is rarely seen at depths below 3 ft and spatial extents are a fraction of what they once were.
Dr. Patrick has been working with the Ecological Modeling Lab at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) since 2011 on the roles of land use, shoreline alteration, and nutrient loading on spatial and temporal variation in Chesapeake Bay seagrass distributions. To date this body of work has resulted in multiple publications and contributions to the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Third Technical Synthesis on seagrass ecology.
Dr. Patrick is currently working with collaborators at SERC, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, on a new Chesapeake Bay Seagrass retrospective paper lead by Robert Orth (VIMS) and Bill Dennison (UMCES). This is a continuation in many ways of the successful SAV SYN collaborative project that resulted in a cover article in Bioscience in August 2017 and a PNAS paper in 2018, and we have several more exciting publications coming down the pipeline!
On the Gulf Coast, Dr. Patrick is working to apply the successful Chesapeake Bay modeling framework to the Gulf Coast estuaries as well as test resulting theories in the field. We have put together a comprehensive database for the work, and we are currently in the process of putting together our first manuscript.
In the field, we're currently running a year long experiment on the effect of macro-grazers and nutrients on turtle grass (Thallasia testudinum) in Aransas Bay. The manipulative experiment has been running since May of 2018 and we make visits every two weeks to clean cages, swap nutrient bags, and monitor the experiments progress. Its getting chilly in the water right now but our new 7ml wet suits are keeping us toasty. Stay tuned for the project results this summer!