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Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center


Department of Environmental Science and Policy George Mason University Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center Belmont Bay Prince William County, Virginia – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center

Potomac EnvironmentalResearch and Education
Department of Environmental Science and
Policy George Mason University
  • Belmont Bay
  • Prince William County, Virginia

An Environmental Research and Education Center
for the Potomac River Basin
Our Mission
  • To utilize the tools of scientific research,
    restoration, education, and policy analysis to
    help society understand and sustain natural
    processes in ecosystems, watersheds, and

Potomac Environmental Research and Education
CenterSpecific Research Foci
  • Restoration of Potomac River Chesapeake Bay
  • Sustainability of Natural Ecosystems in Suburban
  • Impact of Global Climate Change on Management of
    Aquatic Ecosystems

Restoration of the Potomac River and Chesapeake
  • New Bay Agreement
  • Important research questions remain
  • The effect of nutrients on Bay organisms
  • Greater understanding of tidal freshwater
    oligohaline ecosystems
  • The role of wetlands in protecting the Bay
  • The recovery of Bay communities when stresses are

Suburban Sustainability
  • Northern Virginia is one of the most rapidly
    growing regions of the Country
  • How does this rapid growth impact our ecosystems?
  • What are the growth and development strategies
    that can lessen that impact and allow us to
    retain a greater variety of organisms?

Global Climate Change and Management of Natural
  • Impacts of climate change on aquatic ecosystems
  • Linkages between climate change, hydrology, and
    aquatic ecology
  • Using managed landscapes and wetlands to store
    carbon carbon credits

Belmont A Great Opportunity for Environmental
Science and Policy
  • At the mouth of the tidal Occoquan River
  • 30 minute drive from the Fairfax campus
  • Convenient to eastern PW, so. Fairfax, Spring-
    field, Alexandria, Mount Vernon, points south

Immediate Vicinity
  • Adjacent to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge
    Virginia Science Museum site
  • Near Mason Neck, PW Forest National Park and
    other natural areas
  • Convenient to I-95, Rt. 1, Rt. 123, Fairfax
  • Adjacent to VRE commuter rail station
  • In mixed use development including retail,
    convention center, housing

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge
  • 580 acres of tidal marshes and upland meadows
  • A wide variety of plants and animals
  • Access for class field trips, observational

Facilities Anticipated at Belmont
  • 8 research labs (with viewing walls)
  • 4 teaching lab
  • 14 support rooms
  • 3 Lecture Rooms (30-50 seat)
  • 1 Large Assembly Room (80 seat)
  • 10 Offices

Facilities Anticipated at Belmont
  • Library/Resources Center
  • GIS/Graphics Facility
  • Conference Room
  • Classrooms for general university courses

Education Programs
  • Serve as a focus of activity for Environmental
    programs at GMU
  • Graduate programs in Environmental Science and
    Public Policy
  • Certificates in Environmental Management
  • Courses in Biology, Chemistry, Geology,
    Geography, Human Ecology
  • General Education course in Environmental Science

K-12 and Community Programs
  • Work with local schools to implement watershed
    and bay ecology educational programs incorporated
    into basic science curriculum
  • Conduct ecology camps
  • Serve as a resource for local government and

Status of PEREC
  • Website is up
  • http//perec.cos.gmu.edu
  • Inaugural Seminar Series Underway
  • Planning proceeding for temporary and permanent
    space at Belmont Bay
  • Research and educational activities initiated

Current Funded ResearchPotomac Environmental
Research and Education Center
  • Gunston Cove Ecosystem Study
  • Now in its 25th year, over 2 million in external
    funding, mostly from Fairfax County
  • Long-term study of the tidal Potomac River just
    north of Belmont
  • Geospatial Analysis of Fairfax County Natural
  • Compendium of Watershed Assessment Methods
  • http//assessmentmethods.nbii.gov/
  • Tidal Potomac Teacher Training Workshop

Recovery of a Tidal Freshwater Embayment from
EutrophicationA Long-Term Study
  • R. Christian Jones
  • Department of Environmental Science and Policy
  • Potomac Environmental Research and Education
  • George Mason University
  • Fairfax, Virginia, USA

Since 1983/84, water quality, plankton, fish and
benthos have been monitor-ed on a generally
semimonthly basis at a number of sites in the
Gunston Cove area.
Noman Cole PCP
Monitoring Site Key ? water quality and
plankton ?fish trawl fish seine
Summary of Phytoplankton, Light, Submersed
Macrophyte Response
  • Improvements in water clarity related to
    P-limitation and decline of phytoplankton were
    correlated with an increase in submersed
    macrophyte coverage in Gunston Cove
  • Since 1 m colonization depth was achieved (2004),
    macrophyte coverage has increased strongly

Temperature Rising in Gunston Cove?
  • An interesting pattern of increasing summer water
    temperatures has emerged in our data
  • Could this signal a persistent trend of
    increasing water temperature and what effect
    might this have on the ecosystem?

Department of Environmental Science and Policy
  • Other climate change activities
  • Coral reef dynamics
  • Changes in autumn leaf color timing
  • Impact of climate change on indigenous peoples of
  • Survey research on attitudes regarding climate
  • International Marine Conservation Congress at
    Mason May 20-24, 2009

Robert Jonas Pat Gillevet Esther Peters Geoff
Cook Karen Santora Masoumeh Sikaroodi Staci
Lewis W support of Flower Garden Banks National
Marine Sanctuary
March 2006 East Bank Flower Garden Banks Buoy 2
May 2006
March 2007
March 2007 East Bank Flower Garden Banks Buoy 2
May 2006 East Bank Flower Garden Banks Buoy 2
Predicting Changes in Autumn Leaf Color in N. Va.
Mtn. Plant Communities and Relation to Insect
CommunitiesRebecca Forkner, PI
  • Measure leaf flush time, leaf color changes, leaf
    drop time, phenolic content of leaves, and insect
    abundance and leaf damage
  • Simulate herbivory, shading, and UV damage
    effects in the lab
  • Use results to predict effects of global climate
    change on autumn leaf color timing and intensity

Assessing Knowledge, Resilience Adaptation and
Policy Needs in Viliui Sakha Villages
Experiencing Unprecedented Climate Change Susan
Crate, PI
Fill knowledge gaps using appropriate
regional, national GCC data
Integrate community and elder knowledge to
address contemporary GCC needs
GMU Students attitudes to global
warming sustainability
  • Ashley Sitar-Gonzales
  • Undergraduate
  • Supervisor ECM Parsons

International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC)
  • Mason will host this international meeting
    bringing together the worlds experts on marine
    conservation to address these pressing issues
  • Plenary talks, contributed papers, symposia, and
  • Global Climate change is one of 4 major themes
  • http//conbio.org/IMCC

Potential Collaborations
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