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Dr. Bill Pine, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation – Changes in coastal ecology from sea level rise
Email: billpine@ufl.edu

Bill Pine is an aquatic ecologist whose recent research is focused on how river and coastal ecosystems respond to changes in freshwater flow.  He is an Associate Professor in UF’s Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and has a joint appointment with the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Program. He teaches Quantitative Wildlife Ecology and Stream Fish Ecology. Additional information can be found at: http://floridarivers.ifas.ufl.edu 

Goals of the Coastal Ecology component - Rising sea levels and associated changes in freshwater inputs to coastal ecosystems are predicted to lead to changes in resilience of critical coastal ecosystems including oyster bars, forests, and salt marshes.  In concert this could potentially lead to large changes in coastal ecosystems and human communities due to changes in fisheries resources and lost ecosystem services. The Big Bend region of the Florida Gulf of Mexico coast is an outstanding area for this type of study because it is largely undeveloped with a higher percentage of natural land cover.  Eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica populations in this area support economically valuable commercial fisheries and provided critical ecosystem services.  However, the long-term viability of oyster populations is uncertain due to changes in freshwater flows and sea level rise which may require rethinking of existing oyster reef restoration and oyster fishery practices.  Specific goals of the Coastal Ecology component include: 

(1) Assess the relationships between salinity, freshwater flow, elevation, harvest practices, and other variables on the distribution, growth, and survival of Eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica in the Big Bend of Florida.  Of keen interest is assessing how changes in freshwater flow from surface and sub-surface sources may change recruitment dynamics and predation risk.
(2) Inform restoration activities for oysters in the Gulf of Mexico region through experimental restoration activities designed to reef resilience to changes in freshwater flows and sea level rise.
(3) Link the learning above to models projecting changes in freshwater inputs and sea level rise to conceptualize and characterize how coastal succession of oyster bar and marsh communities may change along the low-gradient coastline found in the Big Bend region of Florida’s Gulf coast.