University of West Florida professor receives YSI grant for water quality data research

PORTLAND, OR, Nov. 11, 2009 -- At the Coastal and Estuarine Research Foundation (CERF) Conference in Portland, OR, The University of West Florida (UWF) received a $25,000 grant from the YSI Foundation to synthesize water quality data and address issues of climate change...

Nov 11th, 2009
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YSI grant winner Dr. Jane Caffrey with Gayle Rominger at CERF.

PORTLAND, OR, Nov. 11, 2009 -- At the Coastal and Estuarine Research Foundation (CERF) Conference in Portland, OR, The University of West Florida (UWF) received a $25,000 grant from the YSI Foundation to synthesize water quality data and address issues of climate change.

Gayle Rominger, executive vice president of YSI, presented the grant to Dr. Jane Caffrey, Associate Professor at UWF. In her remarks to Conference attendees Rominger noted, "While millions of water quality-related data points are collected each year in the U.S., recent economic hardships have left many researchers and managers without the funding to analyze those data in order to make meaningful ecological interpretations. The Foundation's goal this year was to help with this necessary task."

According to Caffrey, "With the YSI grant, we can fund a graduate student project, which will help us analyze nutrient and continuous dissolved oxygen data from five National Estuarine Research Reserves in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and Florida Atlantic coast to determine the rate of primary production and net ecosystem metabolism. This work will provide insights to help local and regional managers address water quality issues within their sensitive estuarine and coastal aquatic habitats."

Eutrophication, harmful algal blooms, and freshwater diversions are the main concerns in these estuaries. Caffrey's study will compare estuary-wide and site-specific estimates of primary production, along with analysis of dissolved oxygen dynamics and factors controlling production. The time-series analyses in estuaries with 10 or more years of data will examine how these systems respond to climate variability and human-influenced stressors.

"Such information feeds directly into top management concerns in systems where nutrient load increases have led to noxious and toxic algal blooms and development of hypoxia (low oxygen), or where removal of limited supplies of fresh water threaten the normal functioning of an estuary," noted Dr. Nancy Rabalais of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.

"The proposal by Jane Caffrey contains especially strong science," noted Dr. Walter Boynton of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. "Her comparative approach is one of the strongest tools ecologists have to explore how estuaries work." Boynton and Rabalais, along with Dr. Merrie Beth Neely, were members of the grant selection committee.

About YSI
YSI Incorporated is a global company that designs sensor instrumentation and real-time monitoring systems for professionals who protect natural resources and aquatic life. YSI Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Yellow Springs, Ohio-based YSI Inc. The Foundation's annual "Minding the Planet" grant was initiated in 2006. (www.YSI.com)

Dr. Jane M. Caffrey is an Associate Professor in the Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation at the University of West Florida. Her research interests include estuarine nutrient biogeochemistry, in-situ nutrient analysis, and water quality. She has led a study on atmospheric deposition of mercury, trace metals, and major ions in the Pensacola Bay watershed. She also works on Pensacola Bay water quality issues with local and state agencies.

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