Coastal Issues Forum

ALL Coastal Issues Forums (CIFs) are made possible by the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program, always FREE, and open to the public – NO RSVP REQUIRED! CIFs are designed to bring together diverse community interests to identify Texas Coastal Bend concerns and seek solutions as well as educate our community about programs and opportunities all in a non-biased atmosphere.

PLEASE JOIN USMONDAY, March 4th, 5:30-7:00PM

Del Mar College Center for Economic Development

3209 S. Staples., Corpus Christi, TX 78411

5:30pm – FREE Food & Networking

6 – 7pm – Interactive Presentations with Q&As

Education is the cornerstone of progress! Ready to be amazed by local college students’ cutting-edge environmental research happening right here in our Texas Coastal Bend? Please join us for our second annual “Student March Madness” Coastal Issues Forum (CIF) to hear from award-winning students attending Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Del Mar College, Texas A&M-Kingsville, and University of Texas Marine Science Institute. Come support our students while enjoying light snacks courtesy of HEB, networking and engaging with others!

Kody Barone, Biogeochemistry, University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI)

“Preservation of Soil Organic Carbon at a Mangrove—Salt Marsh Ecotone Following a Lethal Freeze Event” 

After winter storm Uri hit Texas in February of 2021, black mangroves along the Texas coast suffered massive rates of mortality. This research project aims to analyze how this dieback event has impacted the preservation of soil organic carbon in these stands of dead mangroves.

Hector Marrero-Colominas, Del Mar College

Estimating Uncertainty of Water Temperature Predictions for Cold-Stunning Events in the Laguna Madre

The Laguna Madre is a shallow estuarine system that is very important for the development of juvenile green sea turtles and economically valuable fishes. At times, the Coastal Bend experiences very strong cold fronts that can lead to sea turtles and fisheries cold stunnings. A group of stakeholders, including the TAMU-CC Conrad Blucher Institute, Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD), the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), the National Park Service (NPS), the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association (GICA) and many others, have developed a system to help better prepare and mitigate the impact of these events including the interruption of coastal activities for the strongest events. A key part of this collaboration is an operational artificial intelligence model that predicts the timing of these cold stunning events ( The team would like longer lead times for these predictions but as the lead time increases the predictions become less precise. Ongoing research aims at quantifying the uncertainty of these predictions. This talk will introduce a relatively new machine learning method to predict concurrently water temperature and uncertainty around the predictions using Probability Neural Networks.

Rostam Mirzadi, Harte Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Waterbird Nest Survival Across the Texas Coast – Drone Surveys of Nest Productivity”

Islands along the Texas coast provide critical breeding habitat for over 34 species of colonially nesting waterbirds. However, these islands are quickly disappearing due to sea level rise, increased storm activity, subsistence, and erosion, thus posing a significant threat to the state’s colonial waterbird population. Reproductive success information for most waterbirds on the Texas coast is lacking but is needed to direct island restoration efforts.  Therefore, in 2023, we used a quadcopter drone to estimate nest survival for five species of colonial nesting waterbird species, across six breeding colonies, on the Texas coast. Logistic exposure models showed that the Tricolored Heron had the greatest overall survival estimates (mean, 95% confidence interval, n) (0.90, 0.88–0.91, 396 nests), followed by Great Egret (0.85, 0.83–0.87, 402 nests), Reddish Egret (0.82, 0.78–0.85, 167 nests), Caspian Tern (0.85, 0.80–0.88, 149 nests), and Black Skimmer (0.70, 0.67–0.73, 413 nests), respectively. These estimates of reproductive success of nesting waterbirds provide a baseline understanding of their breeding biology in the Coastal Bend region of Texas and is an important first step in identifying important island attributes and nest site characteristics, which may in turn be used to help prioritize islands rehabilitation of islands that have the greatest potential to sustain waterbird populations.

Forrest Fay, Texas A&M University-Kingsville

“Prescribed Fire in South Texas Coastal Prairies”

Prescribed fire is an effective, valuable, yet largely underutilized land management tool in the United States. Its removal from fire-adapted ecosystems has led to land and habitat changes. This project focuses on the vegetation impacts of prescribed fire on the coastal prairies of South Texas. We investigate changes and differences in herbaceous nearest-neighbor relationships, species composition, and vegetation biomass of different burn regimes. We also examine several fire characteristics and behaviors to better understand the effects of season and weather on fire. Preliminary results show nearest-neighbor relationships are impacted by fire. Although initially reduced, biomass quantities can return to pre-burn quantities within a full growing season. Data suggests Summer fires have not been significantly more “intense” than Winter fires. This presentation will give a brief background on fire and dive into the current research on prescribed fire’s impact on coastal prairies.

This is a unique opportunity that you don’t want to miss where you will be enlightened, have a chance to ask questions and seek answers directly from the experts.

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