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ECSU Center for Costal Habitat Research

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Cooperative Habitat Mapping Program

Elizabeth City State University, a Historically Black College University (HBCU) was founded in 1891 and became a constituent of The University of North Carolina system in 1972. Elizabeth City University State (ECSU) coordinated and directed the field efforts of this Cooperative Habitat Mapping Project using its extensive expertise in coastal fisheries and wildlife habitat mapping, remote sensing, and GPS and GIS spatial technologies. ECSU's Remote Sensing Program (through a NOAA grant to provide implementation support to North Carolina's Coastal Habitat Protection Plan and a National Science Foundation Instrumentation Grant) has qualified staff, sophisticated GPS and water quality equipment, computer hardware and GIS software, student support, and is strategically located in northeastern North Carolina.

ECSU's Department of Geological Environmental and Marine Sciences (GEMS) Remote Sensing Program has also conducted an SAV habitat mapping project in Albemarle Sound, North Carolina In the fall of 2002, ECSU contracted Air Photographics Inc. to photograph SAV habitat on the northern shore of Albemarle Sound following the criteria developed by NOAA and VIMS for best mapping SAV using remotely sensed data. Six flight lines were flown and 36 contact prints produced. The photography was taken at 12,000' AMT where 1" = 2000' at a scale of 1:24000 (60% forward lap). This scale was consistent with prior work by NOAA of North Carolina's coastal SAV habitat, including Albemarle Sound, and the ongoing mapping and monitoring effort by VIMS in the Chesapeake Bay (Orth et al. 2001).

The collaboration with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) complemented the ECSU goal to mentor minority students in the fields of marine and environmental science and coastal ecology, and engage these students in hands-on field and laboratory experiences. ECSU plans to disseminate project data and research results to the regulatory commissions (MFC, CRC, and EMC) and their state agencies, academia, local governments, the general public and NOAA through webpages, workshops, seminars and the scientific literature

SAV mapping and monitoring is a priority research initiative for the GEMS Remote Sensing Lab and is integral to ECSU's overall efforts to establish a viable marine and environmental sciences school. This project addresses the UNC System priority to establish coastal facilities for teaching, research and outreach. An important component of the NOAA grant is to strengthen ECSU's ability to foster student careers in the fields of environmental sciences and fisheries research and management. The SAV mapping and monitoring project will involve students, where appropriate, to enhance the educational experience of Marine Science majors at ECSU.

Additional coastal habitat research at ECSU includes work by Dr. Kathleen Fischer to study environmental triggers and impacts to submerged aquatic vegetation in Albemarle and Currituck Sounds. Dr. Fischer is interested in understanding the environmental factors that trigger enhanced SAV growth, particularly favorable climatic conditions, optimal dissolved nutrient levels and/or low suspended solid concentrations.

For further information, please contact Liz Noble, Remote Sensing Program Coordinator, Campus Box 971, Department of Geological, Environmental and Marine Sciences, Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, NC 27909, phone 252-335-3595, fax 252-335-3465, email ebnoble@ecsu.edu.

ECSU SealNCDENRUS Fish and Wildlife ServiceNOAA