This research is supported by proceeds from Florida's Save Our Seas specialty license plate.
Principal Investigator: M. Dennis Hanisak, Ph.D.
Harbor Branch is located on the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), a unique, highly diverse, shallow-water estuary that stretches along 40% of Florida’s east coast and yields an estimated $3.7 billion annual economic impact for the state. Water quality in the IRL has changed significantly over the last century due to land-use and drainage alterations arising from agriculture and residential development. Harbor Branch’s portfolio of IRL research spans more than 40 years and is the foundation of an emerging initiative to promote better understanding, management and preservation of this resource for generations to come: the Indian River Lagoon Observatory (IRLO).
IRLO is a long-term, multidisciplinary and ecosystem-based program designed to address emerging issues of environmental health in the IRL system by achieving a better understanding of the biodiversity and ecological functions of the lagoon and how they are impacted by the surrounding human population. Essential elements of IRLO include:
Ultimately, IRLO will produce an enhanced understanding of IRL ecology and its relationship with human health and the regional economy, and narrow the gap between research and resource management through a new collaborative focus for research institutions, governmental agencies and bodies, not-for-profits and other interested parties.
The Indian River Lagoon Symposium is the result of a multi-institutional, multi-agency effort to provide a forum for discussing IRL science and its application to management of the lagoon. The symposium is open to scientists, decision makers, students, education and outreach professionals, and the interested public. The intent is to help facilitate better communication among these groups so that the gaps between research and its application can be narrowed. Previous programs and abstracts of presentations as well as information on upcoming symposia can be found here .
A network of LOBOs will form the IRLO backbone, complementing our traditional monitoring techniques and greatly enhancing data collection, synthesis and sharing. LOBO units provide real-time, high-accuracy and high-resolution water-quality data and archived data via a simple web-based interface to all who wish to access it. We have deployed two LOBOs in and near the Harbor Branch Channel adjacent to long-term research sites; additional units will deployed throughout the IRL based on successful grantsmanship. This network will:
Based on our initial pilot work above, FAU Harbor Branch was awarded two million dollars from the 2014 State Legislative Budget for a real-time water quality monitoring network and predictive modeling system for the St. Lucie Estuary, with the funds administered by Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The specific locations of those monitoring stations were determined following a technical workshop with interested stakeholders at the first meeting of FAU Harbor Branch’s Indian River Lagoon Observatory Science and Technology Advisory Committee on July 29, 2014.
The summary of the workshop’s technical discussions and recommendation, in accordance with the requirements of DEP Agreement S0770, is posted here
The Site Selection Plan for this project, in accordance with the requirements of DEP Agreement S0770, is posted here