The South Atlantic Chapter (SAC) provides several monetary awards to graduate, undergraduate, and minority students whose research pertains to wetland science or management, including research grants as well as travel awards to various annual meetings. Student awardees can be enrolled in either a public or private university located within the South Atlantic Chapter's region.
2019 Research Grant Winners
David De La Mater
Duke University Department of Biology
Title: Effects of elevated temperatures and eutrophication on plant-herbivore interactions and impacts on a salt marsh foundation species
David De La Mater is a Ph.D. student in the University Program in Ecology at Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment. He studies the ways that environmental conditions influence the form of individuals and their role in the systems they inhabit, often using biogeographic theory as a lens through which to study this problem. For his PhD research, David is using salt marsh communities as a system in which to investigate this topic. The title of his research project is “Effects of elevated temperatures and eutrophication on plant-herbivore interactions and impacts on a salt marsh foundation species.” David will be conducting manipulative warming and nutrient addition experiments in the marshes of coastal North Carolina in order to ask the question “How do rising temperatures and eutrophication interact to affect herbivory and traits of cordgrass in salt marshes?”
University of Alabama
Title: Differences in carbon storage between a constructed and natural brackish marsh: An ecosystem in recovery
The restoration and construction of coastal vegetated areas is a promising tool for recovering ecosystem services lost when costal vegetated areas are degraded or destroyed. One of the most notable ecosystem services that coastal ecosystems provide is the efficient sequestration of carbon (C), which helps to mitigate the effects of anthropogenic climate change. Yet, the capacity of natural marshes to sequester carbon may differ from that in constructed marshes, with significant temporal lags in the recovery of ecosystem services possible for many restored or constructed marshes. My thesis research focuses on differences in carbon storage between natural and constructed tidal marshes in the northern Gulf of Mexico and the factors that drive these differences. Data from my thesis project will provide useful information on the success of tidal wetland creation projects along the northern Gulf of Mexico, and will permit estimation of the time it takes to recover lost ecosystem services in these ecosystems.
2019 Travel Awards to the SWS Annual Meeting
Steven M. Anderson
North Carolina State University
Title: Variable physiological and growth responses of six coastal tree species to experimental salinization
Steven is a Masters student advised by Dr. Marcelo Ardón in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University. He is studying the diversity of species-specific responses to salinity stress in North Carolina freshwater wetland plant communities. His thesis work investigates the diverse physiological responses of six dominant tree species in eastern N.C. to an experimental salinity gradient. The goal of this research is to increase our understanding of how salinity stress impacts carbon allocation, above and below-ground production, and water relations across multiple species. His aim is to inform remote detection of salt stress at multiple scales by pairing leaf-level spectral reflectance measurements with physiological metrics in controlled greenhouse conditions.
University of Florida
Title: Remotely sensed early warning of saltwater intrusion in coastal freshwater swamps
Elliott is studying the effects of saltwater intrusion on coastal freshwater swamps of the northern Gulf of Mexico. The questions in his dissertation seek to understand how the introduction of sulfate changes gaseous carbon flux; how the introduction of sodium can alter the nitrogen cycle; develop a remote sensing method that can be used to assess coastal freshwater swamps health; and establish the ecological trajectory for coastal freshwater swamps canopy trees experiencing SWI. His research draws upon biogeochemistry, ecology, remote sensing, and hydrology to develop a holistic understanding of coastal freshwater swamps with respect to saltwater intrusion.
University of South Florida
Stephanie’s Master’s thesis, under the guidance of Dr. Mark Rains in the School of Geosciences at the University of South Florida in Tampa, involves assessing the changes in wetland structure, spatial distribution, and functionality in the St. Lucie County (Florida) watershed. Specifically, she’s examining the changes between wetlands present before development (~1850s), wetlands existing during the early stages of development (~1950s), and wetlands in the current landscape. GIS maps of historical wetlands in the 1850s and 1950s, along with the data derived from them, will be compared with maps and data produced from analysis of contemporary wetlands in the county, thus quantitatively defining historical changes in extent, structure and function of the wetlands. These comparisons will illuminate more precisely how changes in connectivity have affected ecosystem functions and services of wetlands within the watershed and bordering the Indian River Lagoon.
2018 Research Grant Winners
The South Atlantic Chapter is proud to announce Hayden Hays and Elena Solohin have been selected as the 2018 Research Grant winners.
“Mating behavior and reproductive success as a function of cheliped relations and color morphology in the Red swamp crayfish, Procambarus clarkii”
The red swamp crayfish is a large-bodied crayfish native to Northeastern Mexico and the South Central United States. Despite the extensive research on the invasive potential of this organism, the behavioral aspects of the breeding system have been mostly neglected. I will investigate how various traits in male individuals influence female choice and mating success of the red swamp crayfish, Procambarus clarkii. This females-driven mating system includes both chemical and visual cues, with the visual cues receiving the least attention. Previous research has shown female preference for males of larger body size, but not larger chelae size. This study seeks to tease apart the behavioral cause behind this distinction, through the testing of cheliped autotomy, chelae function, and chelae-body size ratio. I am also interested in the effects of different color morphologies on crayfish mating success, as this is a new topic that has not been studied previously. Finally, females will be allowed to produce eggs and their resulting hatchlings to understand the role of female mate choice on reproductive resource allocation.
“Response of tidal wetlands to rising sea level in three estuaries along the U.S. Southeast Atlantic coast”
Tidal wetlands are increasingly threatened by global climate change and anthropogenic activities. Future rates of sea level rise (SLR) and altered sediment supply due to land use change may have an impact on future tidal wetland ability to keep pace with rising seas. The goal of my project is to understand and predict the impact that rising sea level may have of tidal wetlands along the Atlantic Southeast coast. I intend to use a combination of soil and plant measurements, and remote sensing to understand how tidal marsh health and resiliency has changed over time along three Southeast estuaries: Cape Fear (NC), Edisto (SC), and Altamaha (GA). Understanding the response of marshes to changes in land use and human disturbances will inform coastal adaptive management in the face of climate change and sea level rise. Another important aspect of my project is expanding its educational potential by including the participation of undergraduate students in the research aspects of the study. The educational component is designed to encourage students engagement in a learning process with a strong emphasis on laboratory work. By providing educational opportunities and a learning experience to students, this project will promote the dissemination of the scientific content about coastal wetland science.
2018 Travel Awards to the SWS Annual Meeting
Travel awards were granted to the following students to help defray the costs to attend the SWS Annual Meeting in Denver. Congratulations!
Havalend Steinmuller - “Impacts of Vegetation Transitions on Biogeochemical Cycling within Coastal Wetlands”
Jessica Dell - “The Effects of Willow Encroachment on Peat Accumulation in an Herbaceous Peatland Following Drainage and Fire”
Steffanie Munguia - “Building Diverse Communities in the SWaMMP”
Travel Awards to the GERS & SWS-SAC/SCC Joint Fall 2016 Meeting
Travel awards were granted to students (graduate and undergraduate) to help defray the costs associated with travel and participation in the GERS-SWS meeting.
Kyle Dittmer, University of Central Florida
Kyle collects samples in Orlando Wetlands Park to examine temperature effects on greenhouse gas production along a nutrient gradient.
Havalend Steinmuller, Louisiana State University
Havalend observes the impacts of salinity and soil type on the potential release of nutrients from freshwater wetland soils.
Eunice Yarney, University of Florida
Eunice evaluates whether Irrigation Drainage Tile irrigation and drainage could reduce soil salinity as compared to conventional seepage irrigation and drainage.
Student Research Grants for the SWS Annual Meeting
The SAC offers two, $750 student research grants to graduate or undergraduate students conducting research in wetland science and who are enrolled in an accredited college or university in the SAC region (Virginia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands).
Please visit the SWS Student Research Grants webpage for application instructions.
2017 Grant Winners:
Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources
University of Georgia
I am broadly interested in the role that vegetation plays in mediating population dynamics in species with dual habitat requirements, particularly when these habitats are managed differentially. My current research focuses on examining how forest succession and restoration affect threatened amphibians across wetland-to-upland habitat within the longleaf pine ecosystem. As part of a collaborative project, I will be examining the performance of larval and juvenile amphibians before and after restoration of longleaf pine wetlands which have succeed due to fire suppression. Findings from this research will inform the management, restoration, and conservation of longleaf pine wetlands and the species that rely on them.
Environmental Engineering Sciences
University of Florida
My dissertation research is focused on the transport and fate of contaminants in coastal food webs. Using experimental and analytical approaches, I study how pathways for Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) biomagnification shift as predators undergo ontogenetic development. To do so, I study how age, prey network structure, and trophic position of red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) influence their rate of PCB accumulation in Southeastern Georgia estuaries.
Travel Awards to the SWS 2015 Annual Meeting/Conferences
Travel Awards to Chapter Meetings & Other Conferences
- SAC Award Winners to Chapter Meetings and Other Conferences
- SAC Award Winners to ASB Meetings (no longer available)