A few recent highlights in research include: investigations of the consequences of climate change on endemic marine communities and fishery production; a study of a group of marine sponges as the major cause of dramatic crashes of oyster populations on recently constructed oyster sanctuaries in Pamlico Sound; monitoring of light hydrocarbons at Conch Reef, Florida Keys to identify impacts of the BP oil spill; new methods to rapidly and accurately test recreational water quality; a study of birds, sea turtles and marine mammals in eastern Pamlico Sound to assess potential risks associated with the development of wind farms in our sounds or coastal ocean; and advanced computer modeling of waves, storm surge and the associated hazards to coastal areas during severe storms such as hurricanes.
IMS faculty hold joint appointments in multiple UNC departments including Marine Sciences, Biology, Geology, Ecology, and Environmental Sciences and Engineering. Many of their ongoing research activities reflect this diversity and are highly interdisciplinary, such as studies of the impacts of military training operations at Camp Lejeune, NC on adjacent coastal ecosystems and landforms and the movement of nutrients, larvae and microbial pathogens through our estuarine and coastal waters.
Human activities, such as coastal development, upstream urbanization, and agricultural production, threaten the delicate ecological balance of our marine environments. With rigorous research, IMS faculty promote science-based management decisions to control these threats to marine habitats and public health and safety.