Past and Current Chesapeake Bay Fisheries Science Funded Research
Past and current Chesapeake Bay fisheries science projects address topics to help resource managers make informed decisions.
Research funded by the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office has covered a range of fisheries-related topics over the years. Themes and species funded research have focused on have often been selected in response to information gaps identified by resource managers.
Climate Change, Habitat, and Fish
Forecasting the Effects of Climate Change on Chesapeake Bay Fisheries Using Physiologically Informed Habitat Models
This Virginia Institute of Marine Science project will construct habitat models from existing datasets for striped bass, Atlantic menhaden, spot, bay anchovy, and shite shrimp. Researchers will refine those models with data from the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office’s three real-time vertical oxygen profilers that were deployed in 2023. The project will develop habitat suitability indicators using hindcasts based on previously collected data, and will project and visualize species-specific habitat conditions and suitability expected for 2050. NOAA recommends a three-year total of $383,500.
Estimating Fish Density and Production Enhancement Derived from Restored Salt Marsh Edge Habitats in the Chesapeake Bay
This Virginia Institute of Marine Science project will include comparative nekton sampling of shoreline habitats at five locations in the Middle Peninsula Habitat Focus Area. Also at these locations, researchers will count vegetation in the low marsh areas to determine vegetation density. They will place sensors along shorelines to record inundation duration, depth, and water temperature. Work will also include identifying certain species by natural or restored salt marsh edge habitat, statistical examination of data, integrating new data into productivity tools for salt marsh habitats and living shorelines, and developing science translation products for use in restoration decisions. NOAA recommends a two-year total of $201,700.
Migration Ecology of River Herring in a Changing Climate
Researchers from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center will partner with the Rappahannock Tribe and George Mason University to track 50 targeted fish during their annual migrations using acoustic telemetry technology. The project will include deployment of 24 acoustic receivers at key sites on the Patapsco, Potomac, and Rappahannock rivers. They will also collect otoliths and scales from about 100 fish annually to assess population structures of river herring in the three rivers. They will then analyze the telemetry and biochemical data to assess differences in the migrating fish. NOAA recommends a three-year total of $445,600.
Trophic Role, Energy Densities, and Fatty Acids Composition of Forage Fishes, and Their Major Prey Taxa, in the Mid-Atlantic Estuaries
Scientists from the University of Maryland–Eastern Shore, a historically Black university, will collect roughly 100 fish specimens (summer flounder, bay anchovy, juvenile spot, and weakfish) and will sample mysids, mesozooplankton, and benthic macroinvertebrates three times a year in the Manokin River and in Maryland’s Coastal Bays (on the Atlantic Ocean). They will analyze these specimens to evaluate energy density transfers relating to the food chain. Water quality will be measured seasonally at each of the sample sites. NOAA recommends a two-year total of $250,000.
Climate Change and Striped Bass Recruitment in the Choptank and Patuxent Rivers
Researchers at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science will sample, quantify, and analyze zooplankton abundance and striped bass egg and larvae in the Choptank and Patuxent rivers, and will develop a spawning habitat model for striped bass as it relates to zooplankton distribution using existing historical and hydrographic data. NOAA recommends $119,900 for year 1 of this project.
Using Time Series Analysis of Linked Rare Events to Quantify Impacts of Climate Change on Fish and Shellfish in the Chesapeake Bay
This University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science project will use time series analysis and machine learning to analyze long-term data on striped bass, menhaden, black sea bass, blue crab, summer founder, bay anchovy, blue catfish, red drum, and cobia in the Chesapeake Bay. Researchers will identify links between biological and environmental rare events. They will then develop models and a data analysis tool that quantify variability in environmental conditions with fish and shellfish productivity and abundance. NOAA recommends $99,300 for year 1 of this project.
Valuation of Ecological and Social Benefits Provided by Natural and Restored Nearshore Habitat for Communities and Fisheries
This Virginia Institute of Marine Science project addresses improving social science for fisheries and habitat, including focusing on ecological services provided to the Middle Peninsula of Virginia on natural and restored shorelines. NOAA recommends two-year total of $248,476.
Leveraging Multispecies and Multiyear Telemetry Datasets to Identify Seasonal, Ontogenetic, and Interannual Shifts in Habitat Use and Phenology of Chesapeake Bay Fishes
This University of New Hampshire project addresses synthesis and analysis of existing information that connects living resource responses to changing habitat, climate, and other environmental conditions. NOAA recommends a two-year total of $249,017.
Striped Bass and Summer Flounder Abundance Trends and Influencing Factors in the Chesapeake Bay: An Ecosystem-based Evaluation
This Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University project will quantitatively assess the environmental, habitat variability, and fishing intensity impacts on summer flounder and striped bass species abundance, distribution, and productivity in the Chesapeake Bay. NOAA recommends a two-year total of $116,036.
The Economic Impacts of Oyster Restoration and Seagrass Habitats of the Middle Peninsula, Virginia
This Morgan State University project will develop new ecological models for the York and Piankatank River systems, and couple the new models to regional economic impact analyses to project both ecological and socioeconomic metrics for a range of potential habitat scenarios. NOAA recommends a two-year total of $250,000.
In earlier years, the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office funded projects looking at a range of species. Projects explored topics including species biology and how habitat availability affects species:
- How Will Changes in Habitat Affect Fish in and Near the Chesapeake Bay?
- Blue Catfish: Invasive and Delicious
A multiyear effort, the Oyster Reef Ecosystem Services Project, funded several research projects to explore the ecological and economic effects of restored oyster reefs. Being able to conduct research in areas where restoration was in progress in the Chesapeake Bay provided several researchers with an in situ laboratory.
- Oyster Reefs Provide Habitat and Filter Water, Findings Show
- New Report Explores Ecological, Economic Effects of Oyster Restoration
Findings from many NCBO-funded research projects helped marine resource managers and decision makers draft science-based recommendations and guidelines. For example, Maryland restricted hunting for cownose rays after research found that most of the rays harvested were females, and that cownose rays birth rates are so slow (approx. 1 pup/year) that hunting could deplete the population of this native species. And NCBO-funded research on blue crabs continues to provide the latest science for critical conversations among the three jurisdictions that manage the Chesapeake’s blue crab fisheries. Research was a key topic at a recent blue crab science workshop.