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Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center

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  1. Department of Environmental Science and Policy George Mason University Potomac EnvironmentalResearch and Education Center Belmont Bay Prince William County, Virginia An Environmental Research and Education Center for the Potomac River Basin

  2. Our Mission To utilize the tools of scientific research, restoration, education, and policy analysis to help society understand and sustain natural processes in ecosystems, watersheds, and landscapes.

  3. Potomac Environmental Research and Education CenterSpecific Research Foci • Restoration of Potomac River & Chesapeake Bay • Sustainability of Natural Ecosystems in Suburban Areas • Impact of Global Climate Change on Management of Aquatic Ecosystems

  4. Restoration of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay • New Bay Agreement • Important research questions remain: • The effect of nutrients on Bay organisms • Greater understanding of tidal freshwater & oligohaline ecosystems • The role of wetlands in protecting the Bay • The recovery of Bay communities when stresses are removed

  5. Suburban Sustainability • Northern Virginia is one of the most rapidly growing regions of the Country • How does this rapid growth impact our ecosystems? • What are the growth and development strategies that can lessen that impact and allow us to retain a greater variety of organisms?

  6. Global Climate Change and Management of Natural Ecosystems • Impacts of climate change on aquatic ecosystems • Linkages between climate change, hydrology, and aquatic ecology • Using managed landscapes and wetlands to store carbon & carbon credits

  7. Belmont: A Great Opportunity for Environmental Science and Policy • At the mouth of the tidal Occoquan River • 30 minute drive from the Fairfax campus • Convenient to eastern PW, so. Fairfax, Spring- field, Alexandria, Mount Vernon, & points south

  8. Immediate Vicinity • Adjacent to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge & Virginia Science Museum site • Near Mason Neck, PW Forest National Park and other natural areas • Convenient to I-95, Rt. 1, Rt. 123, Fairfax Campus • Adjacent to VRE commuter rail station • In mixed use development including retail, convention center, housing

  9. Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge • 580 acres of tidal marshes and upland meadows • A wide variety of plants and animals • Access for class field trips, observational research

  10. Facilities Anticipated at Belmont • 8 research labs (with viewing walls) • 4 teaching lab • 14 support rooms • 3 Lecture Rooms (30-50 seat) • 1 Large Assembly Room (80 seat) • 10 Offices

  11. Facilities Anticipated at Belmont • Library/Resources Center • GIS/Graphics Facility • Conference Room • Classrooms for general university courses

  12. Education Programs • Serve as a focus of activity for Environmental programs at GMU • Graduate programs in Environmental Science and Public Policy • Certificates in Environmental Management • Courses in Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Geography, Human Ecology • General Education course in Environmental Science

  13. K-12 and Community Programs • Work with local schools to implement watershed and bay ecology educational programs incorporated into basic science curriculum • Conduct ecology camps • Serve as a resource for local government and citizens

  14. Status of PEREC • Website is up: • http://perec.cos.gmu.edu • Inaugural Seminar Series Underway • Planning proceeding for temporary and permanent space at Belmont Bay • Research and educational activities initiated

  15. Current Funded ResearchPotomac Environmental Research and Education Center • Gunston Cove Ecosystem Study • Now in its 25th year, over $2 million in external funding, mostly from Fairfax County • Long-term study of the tidal Potomac River just north of Belmont • Geospatial Analysis of Fairfax County Natural Areas • Compendium of Watershed Assessment Methods • http://assessmentmethods.nbii.gov/ • Tidal Potomac Teacher Training Workshop

  16. Recovery of a Tidal Freshwater Embayment from Eutrophication:A Long-Term Study R. Christian Jones Department of Environmental Science and Policy Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center George Mason University Fairfax, Virginia, USA

  17. Since 1983/84, water quality, plankton, fish and benthos have been monitor-ed on a generally semimonthly basis at a number of sites in the Gunston Cove area. Noman Cole PCP * Monitoring Site Key: ● water quality and plankton ▲fish trawl ■ fish seine

  18. Summary of Phytoplankton, Light, Submersed Macrophyte Response • Improvements in water clarity related to P-limitation and decline of phytoplankton were correlated with an increase in submersed macrophyte coverage in Gunston Cove • Since 1 m colonization depth was achieved (2004), macrophyte coverage has increased strongly

  19. Temperature Rising in Gunston Cove? • An interesting pattern of increasing summer water temperatures has emerged in our data • Could this signal a persistent trend of increasing water temperature and what effect might this have on the ecosystem?

  20. Department of Environmental Science and Policy • Other climate change activities • Coral reef dynamics • Changes in autumn leaf color timing • Impact of climate change on indigenous peoples of Siberia • Survey research on attitudes regarding climate change • International Marine Conservation Congress at Mason – May 20-24, 2009

  21. Robert Jonas Pat Gillevet Esther Peters Geoff Cook Karen Santora Masoumeh Sikaroodi Staci Lewis W support of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

  22. http://flowergarden.noaa.gov/

  23. March 2006 East Bank Flower Garden Banks Buoy #2 (E201) May 2006 March 2007 March 2007 East Bank Flower Garden Banks Buoy #2 (E201) May 2006 East Bank Flower Garden Banks Buoy #2 (E201)

  24. Predicting Changes in Autumn Leaf Color in N. Va. Mtn. Plant Communities and Relation to Insect CommunitiesRebecca Forkner, PI • Measure leaf flush time, leaf color changes, leaf drop time, phenolic content of leaves, and insect abundance and leaf damage • Simulate herbivory, shading, and UV damage effects in the lab • Use results to predict effects of global climate change on autumn leaf color timing and intensity

  25. APPROPRIATING KNOWLEDGE -Model(s) of household- & community-level GCC knowledge and adaptation; -Integrative GCC education dossier of western & IP knowledge; - Policy rec’s to inform existing GCC policy initiatives and bolster local adaptation. SURVEYING CAPACITY Document elder observations/ perceptions of, /adaptation to GCC Document community observations/ perceptions of, /adaptation to GCC Evaluate existence and effectiveness of current local, regional and state GCC interventions Inform with circumpolar (ITC, ICC, Snowchange) and global projects (Many strong voices, Sharing knowledge…) BUILDING RESILIENCE Assessing Knowledge, Resilience & Adaptation and Policy Needs in Viliui Sakha Villages Experiencing Unprecedented Climate Change Susan Crate, PI Fill knowledge gaps using appropriate regional, national & GCC data Integrate community and elder knowledge to address contemporary GCC needs

  26. GMU Students’ attitudes to global warming & sustainability Ashley Sitar-Gonzales Undergraduate Supervisor: ECM Parsons

  27. International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) 2009 • Mason will host this international meeting bringing together the world’s experts on marine conservation to address these pressing issues • Plenary talks, contributed papers, symposia, and workshops • Global Climate change is one of 4 major themes • http://conbio.org/IMCC

  28. Potential Collaborations