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.
Ever wondered how scientists estimate the stock size of our fisheries? Obviously, there’s no way they can catch and count every fish in the ocean so they’ve had to come up with other ways of estimating the numbers of individuals in the ocean. This process is called surveying.
The Dauphin Island Sea Lab celebrates 20 years of Discovery Day on Saturday, April 8. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the public is invited to visit the Sea Lab’s research laboratories, meet scientists and researchers, get a hands-on marine science lesson and learn more about ACER.