ESTC Workshops--Keystone Species (Maryland)

This workshop series was held at the NOAA Environmental Science Training Center in Oxford, Maryland, on January 19, February 23, March 8, and March 29, 2012.

The Chesapeake Bay is known for the abundance of fish and shellfish that have made the Bay their home throughout history. Today, environmental and other pressures on Bay species, their populations and the health of those populations may be changing the complex trophic interactions within the Bay system. These pressures are coming from not only harvest, but changes in land use, expanding human populations, invasive species, disease and more. The scientific community is constantly trying to better understand these important species and the way they interact with each other and the broader environment. This workshop series brought together scientists and educators to learn about and discuss the history, current understanding, and future outlook for important (keystone) plants and animals in the Chesapeake Bay.

Session 1: It's What You Can't See...Keystoneness, Plankton, and the Chesapeake Bay

  • Keystoneness: What is a keystone species, whey are they important, how is keystoneness determined, and what drives changes in keystone species and communities?
  • Plankton: What is plankton, how do we study it, and how are Bay plankton populations changing in response to environmental pressures?
  • Putting it together: Resources and strategies for incorporating content in education programs

Session 2: Oysters, Crabs, and Others that Go Bump at the Bottom of the Bay

  • Oysters: Are they still a keystone species? What do we know about the history of Oysters in the Bay? What is the current scientific understanding regarding oysters, oyster restoration, and oyster disease.
  • Blue crabs: Are populations recovering? How have we managed the blue crab fishery? What is the current scientific understanding regarding blue crabs in the Bay?

Session 3: EBFM and Other Fish Stories

  • Striped Bass (Rockfish): Have striped bass populations recovered? What is the current scientific understanding of striped bass in the Bay? What is driving disease in striped bass? What is a fisheries scientist's favorite rockfish recipe?
  • Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management (EBFM): What is EBFM? What does it take to use EBFM in the Chesapeake? Are there examples of EBFM in the Bay?

Session 4: Threatened, Endangered, and Invasive

  • What threatened and endangered species call the Chesapeake Bay home? How does a species become designated as threatened or endangered? During this session we will focus on the recently listed Atlantic Sturgeon.
  • Invasive species can have a high keystoneness value and a significant impact on the ecosystem. In this part of the workshop we will consider the role of invasive species in the Bay and learn more about those species that are currently having a significant impact.

Workshop Goals

  • Participants develop an understanding of fisheries sciences in the Chesapeake Bay region
  • Participants will develop a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of organisms within the Chesapeake Bay
  • Provide participants with access and knowledge of tools for exploring fisheries related issues
  • Provide participants with access to and knowledge of quality existing curricula about fisheries topics
  • Cultivate hands-on/field-based activities for illustrating (conducting) fisheries science in the Chesapeake
  • Provide the opportunity for educators and scientists to interact on topics related to fisheries science and education