Protection Agency (EPA), through its Science
To Achieve Results (STAR) competitive grants research program,
has established five regional estuarine and Great Lakes research centers
(EaGLe) at major academic research institutions with strong expertise
in coastal environmental science. Additionally, NASA is supporting associated
remote sensing research at three of these institutions.
national EaGLe programs are:
Lakes Environmental Indicator (GLEI) Project
Coast Environmental Indicators Consortium (ACE-INC)
Slope Consortium (ASC)
for Estuarine Eco-indicator Research for the Gulf of Mexico
Estuarine Ecosystem Indicator Research Consortium (PEEIR)
at these five regional centers are developing the next generation of
environmental indicators to assess the biological health of the Great
Lakes coast and estuaries along the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf Coasts.
Indicators evaluated and developed by the EaGLe programs will be used
by the states in their long-term monitoring programs to establish the
integrity and sustainability of the nation's coastal ecosystems.
to other EPA programs:
EaGLe program is the extramural component of EPA's Environmental
and Assessment Program (EMAP). EMAP's goal is to develop the scientific
understanding for translating environmental monitoring data from
spatial and temporal scales into assessments of ecological condition
and forecasts of the future risks to the sustainability of our natural
resources. EMAP will transfer the approaches and technology developed
by the EaGLe programs to the states which are responsible for water
quality monitoring under the Clean Water Act. For further information,
visit the EaGLe
website or contact Barbara Levinson at EPA's National
Center for Environmental Research (NCER). Phone (202) 343-9720
of STAR and EaGLe by EPA's Barbara Levinson
Lakes Environmental Indicators (GLEI) Project
project is led by the Natural Resources Research Institute at the University
of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). Other cooperators include the following:
the University of Minnesota Twin Cities; Minnesota Sea Grant; the University
of Wisconsin Green Bay; the University of Wisconsin Madison; Cornell
University, New York; John Carroll University, Ohio; the University
of Michigan; the University of Windsor, Ontario; and the US EPA Mid-Continent
Ecology Division, Duluth, Minnesota, and Grosse Ile, Michigan.
be developing and testing a suite of indicators across the range of
habitats that make up the Great Lakes coastal margins. The following
indicator types will be tested for their efficacy and technical soundness
within three subcategories: 1) the basin as a whole: climate measures,
land uses, and landscape characteristics; 2) estuaries, bays and coastal
margin waters: water quality, contaminant levels, and the relative abundances
of amphibian, bird, diatom, fish, macroinvertebrate and plant species
and communities, and 3) the land margins: measures of bird community
structure. Each of these indicator types has linkages with habitat condition
measures and other stressors.
will be coordinated with such resource management and assessment programs
as the binational State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC) and
individual U.S. state programs under the Clean Water Act. To promote
effective communication and interaction with management agencies, this
project will coordinate with EPA's relevant research and development
laboratories for the region, and will work closely with the Great Lakes
Sea Grant network.
Coast Environmental Indicators Consortium (ACE-INC)
is led by the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. The
other institutions in the Consortium are the University of Maryland
Center for Environmental Science, the University of South Carolina,
the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and in
a federal collaboration role, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) Beaufort Laboratory.
selected four ecologically and hydrologically diverse estuarine ecosystems
to develop and evaluate ecologically meaningful and broadly applicable
indicators of estuarine and coastal water quality health. The four estuarine
systems include the nation's two largest estuarine complexes, the Chesapeake
Bay and Albelmarle-Pamlico Sound, as well as a small riverine estuary
in Massachusetts and a small bar-built estuary in South Carolina. The
key indicators of interest are those that reflect attributes of estuarine
systems, i.e., primary production, phytoplankton and higher plant (marsh
and seagrass) biomass and composition, zooplankton and fish community
structure, dissolved oxygen, and estuarine circulation.
will be tested as to their applicability across estuaries with different
primary producer bases, different bio-geographic provinces, and similar
and contrasting chemistry, circulation, and different freshwater flows
and flushing times. In addition, each of the systems has been impacted
in varying degrees by humans, thus affording the opportunity to test
the indicators' ability to detect and differentiate between human and
natural stresses, including hurricanes, flooding and changes in sea
feature of ACE'S research will be the application of calibrated and
ground truthed remote sensing and real-time observing system data. This
information will provide not only a regional or coast-wide context but
also provide the ability for rapid detection and quantification of trends
in coastal health.
Atlantic Slope Consortium (ASC)
is led by Pennsylvania State University. Other institutions in the consortium
are the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, the Virginia Institute
of Marine Sciences, East Carolina University, the Environmental Law
Institute, and FTN Associates. The geographic extent of the research
is the Atlantic slope region, extending from the Appalachian Mountains
to the Atlantic Ocean. This area consists of three major drainage basins,
the Delaware, the Susquehanna-Chesapeake and the Albemarle-Pamlico.
is being placed on developing and testing indicators and constructing
models that link conditions in upstream watersheds to downstream estuaries.
Upstream components of a watershed encompass stream reaches, riparian
corridors, wetlands, and waterbodies and the contributing drainage basins.
This approach is based on the premise that coasts, estuaries, rivers,
streams, lakes, and wetlands must be viewed as an integrated system.
The consortium is researching the applicability of aquatic indicators,
such as nutrient and sediment discharges, the spatial distribution of
engineered structures and optical properties of estuarine waters across
the spectrum of environments from best attainable to severely degraded.
of socioeconomic indicators, including education level and membership
in environmentally active associations, will also be evaluated. Information
on socioeconomic indicators can be useful in interpreting stakeholders
attitudes on environmental risks, understanding institutional and jurisdictional
obstacles to change, and communicating environmental information in
a meaningful way. The development of the socioeconomic indicators builds
on work already done in the Mid-Atlantic region under other EPA programs
such as the STAR Program on Decision Making and Valuation, the EPA/State
Mid-Atlantic Integrated Assessment and the EPA Regional Vulnerability
Assessment (ReVA) program. The socioeconomic data available to the Consortium
includes that on income, employment, health, education level, crime,
water supplies, and wastewater treatment facilities.
for Estuarine Ecoindicator Research for the Gulf of Mexico (CEER-GOM)
of Southern Mississippi College of Marine Sciences is leading CEER-GOM.
The other members of the consortium are the University of West Florida,
Florida State University, the University of Florida, the University
of Alabama, Louisiana State University, Southeastern Louisiana University,
the University of Texas Marine Sciences Institute, and the University
objective of CEER-GOM is to study and validate indicators of estuarine
condition at four levels of biological complexity: the organism, population,
community and ecosystem/watershed. As examples, at the organism level
molecular indicators of dissolved oxygen (DO) stress will be developed
as predictive indicators of reduced fitness (molting and reproduction.)
At the community level microbial biofilms and macrobenthic communities
will be studied as indicators of ecosystem integrity, resilience and
function. At the ecosystem/watershed scale remote sensing will be used
to analyze the spatio-temporal patterns of ecosystem parameters such
as landscape metrics, chlorophyll, surface water temperature and turbidity.
Ultimately an Index of Estuarine Ecosystem Integrity (IEEI) will be
developed and validated. The IEEI will be transferred to the states
for use in long-term monitoring of estuarine conditions.
will be working with coastal managers from the five Gulf States to assure
the relevancy of their research and assist in the incorporation of the
results of the research into state monitoring programs.
Pacific Estuarine Ecosystem Indicator Research (PEEIR) Consortium
consortium is led by the Bodega Marine Laboratory of the University
of California at Davis, in partnership with the University of California
at Santa Barbara. Collaborators include the University of Georgia, Bay
Institute, and the San Francisco Estuary Institute.
goal of PEEIR is to develop indicators of wetland ecosystem integrity
and propose an approach for synthesizing indicators in assessments of
wetland health along the Pacific coast. Because traditional ecosystem
sampling, chemical analyses, and toxicity testing are not adequate to
address responses to multiple stressors in wetland ecosystems, new indicators
for specific plant, fish, and invertebrate population health, as well
as indicators of toxicant-induced stress and bioavailability for wetland
biota, will be developed. Specific local problems, including wetland
degradation and fish declines in San Francisco Bay and in Southern California,
mercury contamination in Tomales Bay, invasions by exotic species, and
pesticide contamination in Northern and Southern California watersheds
will be addressed using these biological indicators.
sensing component seeks to establish landscape-level indicators of environmental
stresses that can be routinely measured from airborne or spaceborne
platforms. This approach will take advantage of the newer high spatial/spectral
resolution instruments that are now available to better assess spatiotemporal
aspects of ecosystem functioning.
and local programs will benefit from this research. Federal programs
include the CALFED program concerned with management of water resources
in the San Francisco Bay and the upstream Sacramento/San Joaquin systems,
and the western component of EMAP. Local programs, as mentioned above,
will also benefit.