NSF Rapid: Urgent sampling zooplankton for assessing ecosystem restoration of G alveston Bay after catastrophic impacts of Hurricane Harvey Grant uri icon


  • Rapid response to large-scale natural disasters and subsequent assessments and restoration of ecosystem functions require baselines of key ecological processes and the driving mechanisms. In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey brought catastrophic rainfall that led to extreme flooding in Southeast Texas, including the Galveston Bay watershed. As the second largest estuary in the northern Gulf (~1554 km2), Galveston Bay supports numerous marine species of fish, shrimp, crabs and oyster with annual fisheries revenue over one billion dollars. Meanwhile the region has been subjected to impacts of human and natural stressors for decades. The bay receives ~60% of the urban and industrial wastewater of Texas, and often encounters reduced freshwater inflow and increased severity of rainfall and flooding. Freshwater inflow induced changes in water chemistry and nutrient regimes are key driving the dynamics of pelagic community in the bay. This RAPID project seeks to collect post-storm data in this region and to improve understanding of flood related damages and restoration of ecosystem functions. This project has an active education and outreach program through undergraduate student participation and citizen science and communication to provide local community valuable information on estuarine ecosystems. This RAPID project is designed to glimpse the ephemeral signals of hurricane-related disturbance in pelagic community through urgent sampling zooplankton and water properties at stations along an increasing salinity gradient from upper bay to the Gulf opening every month from October 2017 to September 2018. A hypothesis of this project is that the hurricane-induced heavy rainfall and extreme flooding likely caused unprecedented changes on the ecosystem structure of the bay. The goal of this project seeks to document the near-term impacts of extreme flooding on pelagic community in the Galveston Bay watershed in an effort to better assess flood-driven zooplankton community dynamics in relation to hydrographic properties (salinity, water temperature, chl-a etc.) and its ecological implications for larval fish and ecosystem functions. Specially, this project will 1) generate post-storm data of abundance, composition and distribution of zooplankton; 2) examine zooplankton distribution in relation to hydrographic properties; 3) evaluate the impacts of hurricane induced extreme flooding on zooplankton community dynamics in terms of ecosystem restoration; 4) engage undergraduate students and local community through citizen science and communication providing valuable information on estuarine ecosystems.

date/time interval

  • 2017 - 2019