the wrap up

By Kaitlyn Dietz

I think that one of the most important components of an event is the “after wrap-up/ debrief/ collapse in your chair”.

The weeks following State of the Reserve have been just a busy as those before the event. We have been reviewing evaluations, summarizing panel discussions, highlighting key parts of presentations and posters, and of course, discussing how to keep the energy and excitement going. As one student described it, State of the Reserve was a “meeting of the minds,” (now, that is a compliment to every single person that attended).

I honestly have to say, it was impressive- the people, the data, the conversations, the crab cookies. The event started off with Dr. Jeremy Stalker discussing the continuous cycles of earth (—did you know that this is the longest earth has been in an interglacial cycle? The earth is overdue for a glacial cycle…) and how the barrier island that the GTM Research Reserve is on is constantly moving. Something to chew on from his presentation:

“dunes are our 401K for sand, beaches are our checking account.”


Plenary session with Dr. Jeremy Stalker, Jacksonville University, pictured on the right.


After his presentation, the group broke into panel sessions that were moderated by Mike Buresh and Lauren Rautenkranz. (Sound familiar? They are local meteorologists.) Some of the take-home points of the panel sessions are:

  • We’ve got to think of resiliency and discussing resiliency from interdisciplinary approaches. Maybe it is art (like the acoustic installation that was featured here by Olivia Block) or maybe it is getting people away from technology just for a moment.
  • We need to change behavior. Research before you buy- there are numerous resources out there that will simulate sea level rise and show you flooding risks (you can flood even if you are not on the ocean). Local governments face challenges when people voluntarily put themselves in dangerous situations for “the perfect view.”
  • We need to communicate more effectively. While the media did a fantastic job of instilling the need to prepare and evacuate for Hurricane Irma, we need to communicate the resources available (or not available) before and after storm events. This includes: flood maps, storm surge, vulnerability assessments, insurance, economics, rebuilding sustainably, and providing support networks.

With the energy from the panel discussions high, the oral presentations heightened the event even more.

Just to highlight what we learned from the presentations:

  • Rainfall and photosynthetically active radiation data from Pellicer Creek indicated that 2016 and 2017 spring seasons had less rain and more sunlight which correlated with large differences in growth patterns of salt marsh plants.
  • Shell Bluff Landing, a cultural site with a minorcan well along the Tolomato River, has seen significant erosion since 1942.
  • Increased hurricane events and decreased freeze events are major drivers of the northward range expansion of mangroves.
  • Spartina wrack may assist mangrove expansion in the early stages of propagule establishment.
  • From community oyster gardeners, oysters grown sheltered locations produced larger oysters than those grown in exposed locations.
  • A resource has been developed that visually summarizes water quality data, soil types, sewer infrastructure, and land use to allow municipalities the opportunity to understand potential development impacts.
  • Storm events with significant rainfall are more likely the drivers of the increases in dissolved organic carbon and nutrients within the Summerhaven river, not restoration efforts.
  • Students from local elementary schools have been growing Spartina alterniflora in greenhouses with the goal of transplanting in retention ponds to reduce nutrients.
  • The Tolomato River is a seasonal refuge for more than ten shark species and the scalloped hammerhead, a critically endangered species, consisted of 40% of surveyed sharks.
  • Discussions with local oyster harvesters can provide an idea of ecosystem services from oyster and harvesting activity to guide management decisions.

Weren’t able to go? That’s alright! You can check out the panel discussions, presentations, and posters for yourself!


And because every good event deserves a good awards ceremony speech…

This event would not have been successful without: all of the staff and volunteers at the GTM Research Reserve, (especially Dr. Michael Shirley, Lia Sansom, Ellen Leroy-Reed, Brooke Ellis, Dr. Nikki Dix, Shannon Dunnigan, Patrician Price, Tiffany Nelson, and Kenneth Rainer), our plenary presenter (and my former graduate advisor) Dr. Jeremy Stalker, moderators Mike Buresh and Lauren Rautenkranz, our panelists (Dr. Don Resio, Dr. Courtney Hackney, Tim Telfer, Jessica Beach, Doug Davis, Dr. Nikki Dix, Dr. Bill Dally, Dr. Todd Osborne, Jeff Alexander, Ryan Carter, and Scott Eastman), the oral and poster presenters (Shannon Dunnigan, Pam Marcum, Emily Jane Murray, Dr. Ilka Feller, Rachel Smith, Tricia Kyzar, José Núñez, Dr. Matthew Brown, Kenneth Rainer, Dr. Jim Gelsleichter, Carrie Schuman, Cody Burns, Mallory Hopkins, Colin Herbert, Trinity Hopkins, Tristen Utic, Mac Byram, Madison Hess, Rosemary Rice, Sofia Roma, Tracey Schafer, Ada Bersoza, Danielle Cayouette, Scott Rowan, John Cepedo, Jimmy Tomazinis, Dr. Michael Pogue, and Ben Mowbray). Thank you to the Friends of the GTM Reserve and University of North Florida Coastal and Marine Biology Flagship Program.

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