The Alabama Center for Ecological Resilience (ACER) Consortium came together to investigate how biodiversity influences an ecosystem’s resilience, or its ability to resist and recover from disturbance, specifically the ecosystems of the northern Gulf of Mexico to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. ACER is focusing on the coastal ecosystems (marshes, beaches and estuaries) of the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Over the next 3 years, ACER scientists will examine the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem resilience across a gradient of oil exposure. Taxonomic, genetic and functional diversity will be considered at several scales and in many different groups of organisms. Experiments will be conducted both in the field and in large-scale controlled environments. Several ecological processes (primary productivity, nitrogen cycling, predation) as well as aspects of ecosystem structure (density, biomass, biodiversity) will be measured. Ecosystem services, such as shoreline stabilization and the availability of habitat, will also be assessed. Research results will not only allow for an assessment of oil spill impacts, but more generally, may also help to predict the impacts of other types of disturbance.
ACER is pleased to release the 6th publication of our Factsheet Series focused on our Microplankton subgroup. The Microplankton team is lead by Dr. Jeff Krause and is investigating how small plankton (from 0.02 -0.2 mm in size) are affected by oiling and oiling response (e.g. the use of dispersants).
The sediment plumes visible in the Gulf of Mexico when flying over the northern Gulf of Mexico coastline readily illustrate the influence of our rivers on the ocean. And yet, even when this influence is not visibly apparent, ecological and environmental processes on the coast and upriver in Gulf of Mexico watersheds affect nearshore ocean ecosystems creating a unique habitat known as the coastal ocean.