In 2009 three Masters' Candidates received $1,000 each. Staying true to our mission statement, the Great Bay Stewards initiated a Graduate Student Funding Program in 2006 to help contribute to ongoing research in and around Great Bay. Each spring, a Request for Proposals (RFP) is posted and interested students submit their funding proposals. A committee of Great Bay Stewards' board members reviews the proposals and selects the winners.
Armed with vials, a hand held refractometer, sipper tubing and syringes, Lauren often used her kayak to paddle out to testing sites in order to conduct her research project on Great Bay locating Salicornia bigelovii and 4 more taxa. Lauren's project focused on determining how to better conserve, protect and restore estuarine areas - currently home to 27 rare plants. In order to ensure their long term survival in Great Bay, 5 rare plants (taxa) were selected. Lauren then mapped their current and historic distribution within Great Bay. Hypothesizing that the chosen species will serve as an early warning signal of ecological tipping points within tidal estuarine marshes. Rare plants are especially threatened by changes in salinity, siltation, dredging and competition with invasive plants. Lauren used her $1,000 GBS Grant to purchase supplies for monitoring and print informational materials to distribute to the general public in order to raise awareness of the threatened and endangered plants, most found exclusively in Great Bay.
Jonathan Felch is currently pursuing a Masters in Science and conducted his research with Dr. Fred Short and the Seagrass Ecology Lab at the Jackson Estuarine Lab on Great Bay. He graduated in Environmental Sciences from UNH in 2008. His project focused on investigating whether eelgrass beds can reduce the negative impacts of seawater acidification on mussels, oysters and snails in Great Bay. Due to the stress of climate change, specifically the increased absorption of carbon dioxide - these shellfish will have a difficult time producing shell as higher concentrations of Carbon Dioxide are absorbed into the water. He hypothesized that higher eelgrass density will drive carbon dioxide constrations lower and carbonate concentration and pH higher through photosynthesis, which will subsequently allow the shellfish to produce shell at a faster rate. Armed with $766 of scientific gizmo's, Jonathan placed replicated cages of mussels, oysters and snails in ten locations in Great Bay. He also studied the effects of higher carbon dioxide on shellfish grown in laboratory aquaria. Because Great Bay already has a higher pH than the ocean [it is more acidic] it is likely that Great Bay will suffer stress more immediately than the coastal and open ocean, thus the importance of understanding the effects of ocean acidification - while ecosystem management is still feasible in Great Bay. The image above is the eelgrass mesocosms located at Jackson Estuarine Lab (JEL) UNH.
Mr. Felch received a $1,000 Grant. Thanks to your generous support, all but $41 of the total project budget was awarded to Mr. Felch, of which he absorbed the costs in order to complete his research.