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Funded Research Projects
Nearshore Data Collection, Modeling, and Assessments

In the Fall of 2022, the Oregon Ocean Science Trust (OOST) requested proposals to conduct science and monitoring on nearshore keystone species, including sea otters, nearshore marine ecosystems, kelp and eelgrass habitat, and sequestration of blue carbon. The grant funding was made available through Section 419 of House Bill 5202 that was passed by the Oregon legislature and signed by the Governor in 2022. A key provision of the bill states:

 

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the General Fund appropriation made to the Department of State Lands by section 1, chapter 545, Oregon Laws 2021, for the biennium ending June 30, 2023, for deposit into the Oregon Ocean Science Fund established under ORS 196.567, to be expended by the Oregon Ocean Science Trust, is increased by $1,000,000, for science and monitoring on nearshore keystone species including sea otters, nearshore marine ecosystems, kelp and eelgrass habitat and sequestration of blue carbon.”

The following nearshore data collection, data modeling, and data portal assessment projects were funded by the Oregon Ocean Science Trust:

Project 1: 
Seafloor mapping of nearshore habitats of the Rogue River Reef Complex - Scott Marion (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Resources Program) - $181,000

Project 2: Kelp communities in transition: a spatial mosaic among changing populations of bull kelp, sea urchins, abalone, and sea stars within rocky reef habitats along the southern Oregon coast - Steve Rumrill (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Resources Program) and Scott Groth (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) - $193,341
Project 3: 
The missing link: Quantifying juvenile dynamics of key commercially and recreationally important fishes along Oregon's nearshore - Kirsten Grorud-Colvert (Oregon State University) and Su Sponaugle (Oregon State University) - $169,815
Project 4: Do tipping points loom? Extending 20+ years of long-term monitoring to assess impacts of climate change on rocky shore macrophyte assemblages - Bruce Menge (Oregon State University), Heather Fulton-Bennett (LIttle Port Walter Research Station, NOAA Auke Bay Laboratories, Juneau, Alaska), Sara Gravem (Department of Integrative Biology, Oregon State University), Zechariah Meunier (Department of Integrative Biology, Oregon State University)  - $190,422
Project 5: 
Trophic modeling of Oregon's nearshore reefs - Will White (Oregon State University), Mark Novak (Department of Integrative Biology, Oregon State University), Leif Rasmuson, Marine Resources Program, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife  - $150,000
Project 6: 
Nearshore data management, portals, and hubs assessment - Deanna Caracciolo (Sea & Shore Solutions), Adrian Laufer (Sea & Shore Solutions) - $10,000

Project1
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HB5202: Science and monitoring on nearshore keystone species including sea otters, nearshore marine ecosystems, kelp and eelgrass habitat and sequestration of blue carbon 
Project Title: Seafloor mapping of nearshore habitats of the Rogue River Reef Complex

Research Team:

Scott Marion (PI), Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Resources Program

Project Objectives:

This project will collect high-resolution seafloor mapping data for key nearshore rocky habitats in the vicinity of the Rogue River Reef off Gold Beach, OR. This complex shallow reef system, which supports the largest remaining kelp beds in Oregon, the largest and most robust commercial sea urchin harvest, the largest Stellar sea lion rookery, and a high-potential sea otter reintroduction site, is also the last significant gap in an otherwise near-comprehensive catalog of the state’s important rocky reef habitats. The data generated will consist of a high-resolution bathymetry raster (i.e. depth data at 1-4 m2 resolution depending on depth) and a backscatter mosaic (i.e. an image of bottom reflectivity that enhances interpretation and quantification of rocky seafloor structures). The project will fill a major gap in the understanding of Oregon’s nearshore ecosystems and provide a critical, permanent foundation for a broad range of other studies, analyses, and monitoring efforts that require basic data on the abundance and distribution of rocky seafloor habitats. A decades-long initiative to gather basic physical data mapping the seafloor structure in and around the state’s nearshore rocky ecosystems left this last site unmapped, largely as a consequence of its distance from major ports, challenging shallow navigation, large size, and prevalence of high winds.


 Project Timeline: March 2023-June2024

Project Award: $181,000

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Research Team:

Steve Rumrill (PI), Shellfish Program Leader, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Resources Program
Scott Groth (PI), South Coast Shellfish Biologist, Oregon Department of Fis
h and Wildlife

Project Partners:

Oregon Commercial Sea Urchin Harvesters
Oregon Science Divers: University of Oregon, Oregon Coast Aquarium, US Forest Service, Oregon ReefCheck

Coastal Conservation: Oregon Kelp Alliance, Elakha Alliance


Project Objectives:

This project will address how the ecological characteristics of rocky reef habitats differ between areas that have experienced loss of kelp versus areas where kelp beds persist by filling critical data gaps regarding recent shifts in kelp beds and rocky reef habitats located at strategic conservation sites along the southern Oregon coast. The project will:

  • Conduct new underwater surveys at sites where bull kelp beds have decreased in spatial extent and ecological communities recently transitioned into urchin barrens;

  • Conduct new underwater surveys at sites where bull kelp beds persist and ecological communities are presumed to still function in a relatively typical manner; and

  • Conduct outreach activities to share new datasets, disseminate information, and raise awareness among project participants, resource managers, and coastal stakeholders about the ecological impacts associated with recent shifts in kelp beds and rocky reef habitats along the southern Oregon coast.


Project Timeline: March 2023-September 2024

Project Award: $193,341

HB5202: Science and monitoring on nearshore keystone species including sea otters, nearshore marine ecosystems, kelp and eelgrass habitat and sequestration of blue carbon
Project Title: Kelp communities in transition: A spatial mosaic among changing populations of bull kelp, sea urchins, and sea stars within rocky reef habitats along the southern Oregon coast

Project2

HB5202: Science and monitoring on nearshore keystone species including sea otters, nearshore marine ecosystems, kelp and eelgrass habitat and sequestration of blue carbon
Project Title: The missing link: Quantifying juvenile dynamics of key commercially and recreationally important fishes along Oregon's nearshore

Research Team:

Kirsten Grorud-Colvert (PI), Oregon State University
Su Sponaugle (PI), Oregon State University
 

Project Partners:

Lindsay Ayleworth, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Reserves Program

Jim Burke, Oregon Coast Aquarium

Alison Whitman, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Resources Program

Project Objectives:

This research will:

  • Characterize the relative importance of the nearshore habitat for recruiting fishes;

  • Genetically identify key commercially and recreationally important species in an existing 10-year sample series to provide species-specific recruitment indices and length data useful for three upcoming stock assessments;

  • Expand settlement time series using a collector designed to mimic kelp;

  • Evaluate whether marine reserves serve as refuges for these fishes.


Project Timeline: March 2022 to March 2025

Project Award: $169,815

Project3
Project4
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HB5202: Science and monitoring on nearshore keystone species including sea otters, nearshore marine ecosystems, kelp and eelgrass habitat and sequestration of blue carbon
Project Title: Do tipping points loom? Extending 20+ years of long-term monitoring to assess impacts of climate change on rocky shore macrophyte assemblages
 

Research Team:

Bruce Menge (PI), Department of Integrative Biology, Oregon State University

Heather Fulton-Bennett, LIttle Port Walter Research Station, NOAA Auke Bay Laboratories, Juneau, Alaska

Sara Gravem, Department of Integrative Biology, Oregon State University

Zechariah Meunier, Department of Integrative Biology, Oregon State University

Project Objectives:

  • Quantify the abundance and reproductive status of the low intertidal zone kelps (Hedophyllum sessile, Egregia menziesii, Postelsia palmaeformis, Lessoniopsis littoralis, Laminaria setchellii, Laminaria sinclairii, and Alaria marginata). Past research and observations have indicated that several of these species are highly susceptible to the warmer temperatures occurring during El Nino and MHW event, suggesting climate warming may lead to chronic or sudden changes in abundance and reproduction.

  • Quantify annual losses of low zone macrophytes and changes in species composition. 

  • Continue longer-term experiment aimed at testing resilience and recovery of macrophyte communities.


Project Timeline: March 2023 to March 2025

Project Award: $190,422

Project5
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Research Team:

Will White (PI), Oregon State University, Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station

Mark Novak (PI), Department of Integrative Biology, Oregon State University

Leif Rasmuson (PI), Marine Resources Program, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
 

Project Objectives:

​This project will develop a multi-species model of kelp-forest community dynamics to forecast the consequences of alternative management activities in several focal regions of Oregon's coast. The work will build on recent efforts to characterize and model nearshore community dynamics, including:

  • How kelp forests will respond to urchin culling;

  • How kelp restoration would affect urchin and abalone populations;

  • How otter reintroduction will affect urchin, kelp, and crab populations;

  • How the regional oceanographic differences can lead to different outcomes for kelp forests and could serve as indications of the potential for restoration success.

Project Partners:

Research will be integrated with key interest groups in Oregon - Dungeness Crab Commission, Oregon Kelp Alliance, and southern Oregon urchin fishers - to provide input during model development.


Project Timeline: March 2023-February 2025

Project Award: $150,000

HB5202: Science and monitoring on nearshore keystone species including sea otters, nearshore marine ecosystems, kelp and eelgrass habitat and sequestration of blue carbon
Project Title: Trophic modeling of Oregon's nearshore reefs

Project6
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Research Team:

Deanna Caracciolo, Sea & Shore Solutions

Adrian Laufer, Sea & Shore Solutions
 

Project Objectives:

​This project will conduct a needs assessment to identify the most scientifically sound and effective approach for enhancing data access, storage, dissemination, and archival for Oregon nearshore ocean data. The project will:

  • Design an online survey and request OCOIN review.

  • Distribute the survey to ocean managers, planners, industry, communities, Tribes, and others.

  • Research existing coastal/ocean research data hubs.

  • Synthesize findings into an assessment.


Project Timeline: March 2023-May 2023

Project Award: $10,000

FINAL REPORT

HB5202: Science and monitoring on nearshore keystone species including sea otters, nearshore marine ecosystems, kelp and eelgrass habitat and sequestration of blue carbon
Project Title: Oregon nearshore data management, portals, and hubs assessment

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