Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Current Research Projects

Since 1977, Maryland Sea Grant has funded scientific research relevant to the Chesapeake Bay and the Maryland residents who conserve, enjoy, and make their living from it. We strive to fund projects that both advance scientific knowledge and offer practical results benefiting ecosystems, communities, and economies throughout the Chesapeake Bay region.

Click on an individual project to find out more. Search current and past research projects here.

Tracking Septic System Performance by Using Innovative Mass Spectrometric Approaches and Traditional Nutrient Measurements

Principal Investigator: 

Michael Gonsior

Institution: 

Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Co-Principal Investigator: 

Lora A. Harris, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; Andrew Heyes, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Summary: 

Scientists will examine whether technology used in newer septic systems is more effective than older septic systems are at reducing nitrogen loads and improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. The project will seek to identify unique organic tracers that are specific to septic-system effluent and use them to track the effluent as it travels far from septic systems and into streams and groundwater. It is anticipated this project will improve understanding of septic system contribution to excess nutrients in the Chesapeake Bay. This information could help municipalities understand how best to achieve their Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) targets for water quality in the estuary.

Understanding Decisions to Participate in Oyster Aquaculture in Maryland-Implications of Livelihood Diversification on Resilience

Principal Investigator: 

Jen Shaffer

Institution: 

University of Maryland, College Park

Co-Principal Investigator: 

Adriane Michaelis, University of Maryland, College Park

Summary: 

In Maryland, oyster restoration projects have attempted to enhance the Chesapeake Bay's wild oyster population and restore critical ecosystem services provided by oysters. Oyster aquaculture, paired with restoration, is a sustainable alternative or complement to wild harvest that can reduce fishing pressure on wild populations, contribute to the ecological role of oysters in the bay, and provide a more rel iable source of income for those involved.

Understanding the Distribution and Ecology of the Mysid Neomysis americana, a Key Forage Species in Chesapeake Bay

Principal Investigator: 

Ryan Woodland

Institution: 

Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Co-Principal Investigator: 

Hongsheng Bi, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; Elizabeth North, Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Summary: 

There is a concerted effort to move away from traditional single species fisheries management in Chesapeake Bay toward a more holistic management framework that considers the interactions between fishery and non-fishery species and how their dynamics are linked to their environment.

Using an Individual-Based Model to Predict the Genetic Impacts of Hatchery Based Restoration of the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) in Chesapeake Bay

Principal Investigator: 

Louis Plough

Institution: 

Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Co-Principal Investigator: 

Katie Hornick, Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Summary: 

A century of overfishing, habitat destruction, and disease have left stocks of the Eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica at historically low levels in Chesapeake Bay, prompting wide-ranging restoration efforts. A large hatchery-based supplementation program has been established in Harris Creek on the Choptank River, in which billions of spat produced by the Horn Point Laboratory (HPL) Oyster Hatchery have been planted since 2011.

Variation in Retention and Export of Atmospheric Nitrate as a Function of Land Use Across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Principal Investigator: 

David Nelson

Institution: 

Appalachian Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Co-Principal Investigator: 

Keith N. Eshleman, Appalachian Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; Cathlyn D. Stylinski, Appalachian Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Summary: 

Riverine nitrogen (N) export has decreased in forested and mixed land-use watersheds of the Chesapeake Bay (CB) in recent decades, but the factors driving these water-quality improvements are uncertain. This knowledge gap impedes the development of science-based strategies to project future changes in water quality. One factor that may explain these trends is reduced atmospheric N deposition, but existing data cannot address this hypothesis.

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