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Sees Fellows: Enhancing Sustainability Of Shellfish Harvest In Alaska: Addressing The Ecology Of Alexandrium Blooms And Their Sociocultural Impacts.


<p>The project is supported under the NSF science, engineering and education for sustainability fellows (sees fellows) program, with the goal of helping to enable discoveries needed to inform actions that lead to environmental, energy and societal sustainability while creating the necessary workforce to address these challenges. Sustainability science is an emerging field that addresses the challenges of meeting human needs without harm to the environment, and without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. A strong scientific workforce requires individuals educated and trained in interdisciplinary research and thinking, especially in the area of sustainability science. With the sees fellowship support, this project will enable a promising early career researcher to establish herself in an independent research career related to sustainability. This project focuses on the sustainability of shelfish harvesting in Alaska. In Alaska, paralytic shellfish poisoning caused by the marine alga alexandrium is a severe and persistent problem that significantly impacts human health and the availability of shellfish resources. This project aims to enhance sustainability of commercial, recreational and subsistence shellfish harvest in southeast Alaska by addressing the ecology of alexandrium harmful algal blooms and their sociocultural impacts. Despite the recognized impacts of paralytic shellfish poisoning, little research has been done on the causative organism, alexandrium, and the sociocultural impacts of toxic alexandrium blooms in the southeast Alaska region. This study is a three-pronged effort. First, the project bolsters understanding of the ecological mechanisms that promote alexandrium blooms by mapping cyst seedbeds (i.e., bloom initiation sites), monitoring cyst emergence, and identifying environmental conditions under which blooms form. This information adds to the body of scientific knowledge about alexandrium bloom dynamics in coastal, fjord systems, provide early-warning information about toxic bloom development and help focus future paralytic shellfish poisoning testing and harmful algal bloom monitoring efforts in southeast Alaska. Second, the application of novel in situ sensors will overcome previous benthic emergence monitoring challenges and has the potential to improve harmful algal bloom forecasting capabilities. Third, human dimensions research will generate critical information about how social systems can reduce vulnerability to harmful algal blooms and how local/traditional knowledge can support scientific efforts by establishing strong community partnerships. The sees fellow, Dr. Elizabeth Tobin, works with host mentor Dr. Ginny Eckert at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and with partner mentor Dr. Thomas Leschine at the university of Washington.</p>

Tobin, Elizabeth D
University of Alaska - Fairbanks
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