Abstract

The overall goal of the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia (CBNERRVA) research and monitoring program is to promote, coordinate and conduct research and monitoring to enhance the scientific understanding and management of the York River and southern Chesapeake Bay coastal ecosystems. The regions of greatest scientific emphasis are located within four Reserve sites located along the York-Pamunkey River estuarine system. Primary research and environmental monitoring areas include: estuarine and shallow water environments including benthic communities, submerged aquatic vegetation and emergent wetlands habitats, open water regions and adjacent watersheds and air sheds. Both national priority (NOAA) and Chesapeake Bay specific (Chesapeake Bay Program) research focus areas are pursued within the Research Reserve with goals to: enhance scientific understanding of coastal ecosystems, surrounding environments and the natural and human processes influencing such systems; and, promote the effective management and conservation of natural and cultural coastal resources through informed decision-making. A System-wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) initiated by the Estuarine Reserves Division (ERD) of NOAA provides standardized data on national estuarine environmental trends through similar measurements of abiotic and biotic variables as well as watershed and land use classifications and measurements at each of the 27 Reserves. Data are compiled electronically at a central data management location and are available via web interface (www.vecos.org). Ongoing York River monitoring programs at the CBNERRVA reserve sites include; meteorological and streamflow monitoring, water quality monitoring and biological monitoring are available through the Reserve or via web interface. Multi-parameter water quality, in situ monitors at both fixed and buoyed stations, point sampling and continuous underway flow-through monitoring form the basis of the water quality monitoring program. Research opportunities at Reserve sites are available to any qualified scientist, academician or student affiliated with a university, college or school, non-profit organizations, and non-academic research institutions. In addition, the Reserve sponsors competitive graduate research fellowships through the NERRS Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) Program for student research in the York River system.

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