Completed Research Projects

Below you can find a list of research and implementation/restoration projects that have been undertaken by the BBP, funded by the BBP, or had some BBP involvement.

Montclair State University (2013-2014)
The role of plant and community structure in riparian soil nutrient retention

The goal of this research was to assess the feedbacks among non-­‐point source pollution, plant communities, and soil community structure along a riparian corridor within the Barnegat Bay Watershed (BBW).  Soil and plant community composition and sediment and water chemistry were examined at four sites along a gradient of urbanization along the Toms River during the summer of 2013. The composition of the plant and microbial communities varied very little among the four sites. This is notable because our four sites were chosen based on their increasing exposure to urban influence. This result suggests that urbanization may not be the driving force affecting biotic community composition or soil chemistry. Understandably, the most pronounced differences in both plant and microbial community structure were observed between the floodplain and the upland habitats. All four sites offer good examples of restoration reference sites. All sites have relatively few non-native invasive species and those that are present are not dominant components of the vegetation. Ultimately, understanding the interactions between the plant and soil communities will allow for recommendations of restoration targets in the BBW.

The complete study methodology, results, and discussion can be found here.

Stockton University (2012-2014)
Modeling Zostera marina restoration potential in Barnegat Bay

In Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor (BB-LEH) eelgrass (Zostera marina) populations have declined significantly since 2004 with record lows recorded in 2010. The goal of this project was to refine and apply the model developed by Jarvis et al. to quantify submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) resiliency to perturbations through modelling loss and recovery processes within established SAV beds in BB-LEH.  Specifically, the project refined and calibrated an exisiting seagrass model to conditions within BB-LEH, used the calibrated model to quantify the possible effects of reduced nutrient loading rates (i.e. present day, less 10%, less 30%) on seagrass survival of two existing Z. marina sites along a nutrient loading gradient, and used the calibrated model to determine suitability of three Z. marina sites along a nutrient loading gradient for restoration using the model and NJDEP comprehensive water quality data.  The model captured the overall seasonal trends in seagrass biomass reasonably well under typical conditions. Reductions of water column and sediment nutirents up to 30% below ambient conditions resulted in no change in above or below ground biomass in the model.

For additional details on the methodology and findings, as well as a thorough discussion of the results and their implications, please see the final report.

Rutgers University (2012-2014)
Characterization of phytoplankton functional taxonomic groups in relation to juvenile hard clam production in the Brnegat Bay-LIttle Egg Harbor estuary (BB-LEH)

The main objectives of this study are 1) to determine spatial and seasonal patterns in the absolute and relative concentration of phytoplankton functional taxonomic groups (FTG), as determined by chemical analysis of photopigments in BB-LEH at 4 sites along a north to south latitudinal gradient; 2) at a subset of two contrasting sites (Sedge Island and Island Beach State Park), compare the seasonal composition of FTGs with that determined from taxonomic phytoplankton species composition, determined microscopically; and 3) to relate FTG data derived from this project to the field performance (growth and survival) of juveniles of a key suspension-feeder, Mercenaria mercenaria. Overall, there were marked differences in the the timing and magnitude of the Chlorophyll a peak, and the composition of the phytoplankton community between the study sites. Sedge Island generally showed a greater diversity of diatom species than IBSP. There was generally relatively good agreement between temporal patterns in photopigment and taxonomic/biovolume analysis of the phytoplankton, most notably for cryptophytes at both Sedge and IBSP, total phytoplankton and diatoms at Sedge, and green algae at IBSP. In contrast, these two approaches did not yield comparable results for dinoflagellates.

For additional details on the methodology and findings, as well as a thorough discussion of the results and their implications, please see the final report.

Cedar Creek Weir removal (2013)

A collaboration between the BBP, NJDEP, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Berkeley Township, this project involved the removal of a weir spanning the Cedar Creek just to the west of Route 9.  The weir, formerly used by the US Geological Survey as a stream gauging station, prevented the movement of fish along the creek.  Specifically, the removal of this barrier opened up at least 5 river miles to diadromous fish seeking freshwater habitat.

Stockton University (2013)
Derelict crab trap identification and removal in Barnegat Bay

In the past decade, Barnegat Bay’s percentage of New Jersey’s blue crab catch has quadrupled, demonstrating the substantial amount of fishing effort present in smaller systems (as opposed to Delaware, Chesapeake Bays). Unfortunately, the dynamic nature of Barnegat Bay (boat traffic, bottom currents, seasonal icing, and storms) may render a substantial proportion of gear lost or damaged every year, likely increasing bycatch mortality. The potential consequences of derelict gear in Barnegat Bay are two-fold: (1) negative ecological impacts on target / non-target species and associated habitat and (2) loss of product, time, and income for the commercial (and recreational) fishing community. This project identified accumulations of derelict gear (> 344 probable ghost traps) and removed sub-samples of gear (~ 50 pots) from areas of concern in collaboration with a local commercial waterman.  In addition, the project fostered increased local awareness and development of best management practices for commercial and recreational fishers and boaters.

Please see the final report for additional details, including maps, photographs, and links to educational brochures.

Ocean County Soil Conservation District (2011-2013)
Soil Health Improvement Project

This project developed simple, low cost and practical soil restoration techniques and procedures that are transferrable at the homeowner scale, one yard at a time. The project consisted of a number of related tasks, including the improvement of soil function through de-compaction and organic matter addition to turf managed landscapes, identification of characteristic microbial community profiles of healthy soil systems, the demonstration of best management practices for soil restoration and native plantings, and a comprehensive education and outreach effort.

See the Soil Health Improvement Project final report for additional details, including recommendations for home lawn care.

Rutgers University, Haskins Shellfish Research Laboratory (2010-2012)
Status and Trends of Shellfish Population in Barnegat Bay, with a focus on the hard clam

The main goal of this study was to review the historical and current status of hard clam populations in Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor and evaluate their potential for rehabilitation under present environmental conditions.  This was accomplished through the use of prior stock assessments conducted by the State of New Jersey, and published studies to construct a history of the hard clam in Barnegat Bay. These data provided an assessment of the level of abundance of M. mercenaria in the estuary, and helped to identify suitable strategies for restoration, as well as gaps of information and mitigation measures required to ensure that the estuary can adequately sustain clam populations.

Shellfish Restoration White Paper

Natural Resource Conservation Service (2012)
Subaqueous Soil Survey of Barnegat Bay

The goal of this project is to create a preliminary subaqueous soil survey map and soil unit descriptions for the Barnegat Bay.  This preliminary map will then be improved upon by two years of subsequent transect sampling and sediment analysis.

Subaqueous Soil Survey Final Report and Map

Rutgers University, (2011-2012)
In situ surveys of seagrass habitat in the northern segment of the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor estuary: eutrophication assessment

The goal of the proposed study is to assess widgeon grass demographics in the northern segment of the Barnegat Bay so eutrophication assessment of seagrass habitat can be targeted estuary-wide. This work is needed to holistically assess the eutrophication problem that continues to impact the ecology of Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor, most notably in the northern estuary, and to provide baseline data for ongoing assessment and ecosystem-based management of the entire system.

West Windsor – Plainsboro High School, 2011
Measuring Willingness to Pay for Restoration of a Highly Urbanized Coastal Watershed

The Barnegat Bay Watershed is a highly urbanized coastal watershed that contains four major ecosystem services in need of repair: soil retention, water quality, habitat provisioning, and recreational use. This preliminary study evaluated watershed resident’s willingness to pay (WTP) for ecosystem restoration services using the contingent valuation method (CVM).  Results from the surveys show that residents are willing to pay an average of $11.06 in addition to their monthly water bills, or $132.72 annually per household. All the households in Ocean County would pay a total of $6.62 million to $29.3 million, depending on whether non-responding households make any contribution or not. The lower bound remains $1.34 million less than the costs of restoring the four ecosystem services, which was originally estimated by the Barnegat Bay Partnership (BBP) to be $6.63 million in 2002, or $7.96 million in 2011 dollars.

Final Report: Willingness to Pay for Ecosystem Restoration.pdf

Rutgers University, (2011-2012)
Implementing American eel passage on existing dams

This project will provide immediate passage for early life history stages of American eel (glass eels and elvers) over three dam spillways in Barnegat Bay utilizing low technology methods. The project would include a monitoring component to evaluate the efficiency of the various techniques to be used and result in the selection of the optimal technique for use at other dams in the Barnegat Bay watershed and eventually elsewhere along the east coast of the U.S.

American Littoral Society and Princeton Hydro (2010-2012)
An Analysis of the Pollution Reduction Capability of Existing BMPs located in the Toms River Sub-watershed of Barnegat Bay

Existing stormwater basins will be sampled within the Toms River subwatershed on both baseflow and storm events. The resulting data will be used in concert with water quality modeling data to assess the existing pollutant load removal performance of each basin. These data will provide needed insight related to how existing stormwater basins in general are controlling the Bay’s eutrophication.

Rider University (2010-2011)
Fecundity of Barnegat Bay Blue Crabs:  The Influence of Size, Season, and Relative Fishing Effort

The project will examine the influence of female size, season, and relative fishing effort on the fecundity of adult blue crabs in Barnegat Bay using field sampling with commercial-style traps and laboratory experiments. Size, temporal, and spatial variation in aspects of the reproductive potential (e.g., sperm stores) of both sexes will also be measured. Seasonal reproductive output and fecundity and reproductive potential will be analyzed. These data will provide estimates of the reproductive capacity of Barnegat Bay blue crabs, the influence of overwintering on fecundity and reproductive development, as well as the first examination of female size, temporal, and spatial variation on the fecundity of Barnegat Bay blue crabs and the potential influence of fishing effort on the duration of the spawning season and on the relative percentage of adult females that are spawning.

United States Geological Survey, New Jersey Water Science Center (2010-2012)
Quantifying Nitrogen Inputs to Barnegat Bay:  Monitoring Discrete Sampling of Streams and Shallow Ground Water

The objectives of this investigation are to improve upon the current understanding of the sources of nutrient inputs to the estuary, identify streams that may contribute substantial loading of nutrients to the estuary that have not been well characterized, use real-time water-quality monitoring and discrete sampling and streamflow measurement to quantify loading to three streams for which sufficient data are not currently available, identify areas from which direct ground water loading of nutrients to the estuary has not been sufficiently quantified because of a lack of shallow ground-water-quality data, analyze water samples from shallow wells and streams (including the Toms River and Metedeconk River, which together contribute a large portion of the total non-point-source nitrogen loading) to determine ratios of oxygen and nitrogen isotopes, and sample a sufficient number of wells so that a more reliable estimate of direct and indirect ground-water nutrient loading can be obtained.

United States Geological Survey, New Jersey Water Science Center (2009-2010)
Evaluation of Present and Future Nitrogen Inputs to the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor Estuary — Nitrogen Inputs to Ground Water

The objectives of this investigation are to: 1) simulate ground-water flow paths in the shallow flow system throughout the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor watershed; 2) determine if nitrogen concentration trends in baseflow (where concentration data exists) can be simulated using a particle tracking analysis; and 3) estimate nitrogen concentrations in recharge over time to estimate possible concentrations at point of discharge (streams and the estuary) in the future.

Rider University (2009-2010)
Assessing Population Structure, Reproductive Potential, and Movement of Adult Blue Crab in Barnegat Bay

The population structure of adult blue crabs will be collected utilizing baited traps throughout Barnegat Bay. Crabs will be measured for carapace width and age, sexual maturity, sex, molt stage, limb loss and regeneration, and ovigerous stage (adult females). A weekly sub-sample from each area will be frozen for subsequent dissection and measurement of reproductive potential:  sperm stores and seminal fluid weight in males; sperm stores; ovarian weight and developmental stage; brood stage; and egg number in females. Lastly, a subsample of crabs will be tagged and released, with a reward for recapture information. This will allow an assessment of adult blue crab movement in the Bay, which can be correlated with data from published information on available habitats.

Rutgers University (2009-2010)
Remote Sensing and in situ survey of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation in Barnegat Bay

The extent of submerged aquatic vegetation will be mapped utilizing high spatial resolution (<1 meter) ortho-rectified multi-spectral (red, green, blue, and infrared) aerial photography. An array of in situ field points will be collected within the estuary to field-verify the imagery using both divers and a submerged video camera unit linked to a Global Positioning System (GPS). Further, Geographic Information System (GIS) data collected during year 2003 will be compared with the mapped seagrass habitat created from this project. These data will be analyzed for total seagrass habitat lost or gained, specific areas of seagrass habitat change, relationships to water depth (i.e., is seagrass decreasing or increasing in deepwater vs. shallow water areas), north to south gradient, and known brown tide bloom locations.

Montclair State University (2010)
Assessment of Sea Nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha) Polyps in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey

The main focus of this study is to conduct a survey of the Sea Nettle polyp population distribution in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. This will be accomplished through the use of experimental settling plates to assess the timing of polyp settlement and natural surveys of submerged hard structure to determine the presence of polyps-generating medusa.

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