The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) is a United States 2,650-acre (10.7 km2) environmental research and educational facility operated by the Smithsonian Institution. It is located on the Rhode and West Rivers near Edgewater in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, near the western shore of Chesapeake Bay. The center's focus of study is the ecosystems of coastal zones, particularly in the Chesapeake Bay estuary and nearby wetlands.
In 1964, Robert Lee Forrest of Baltimore left a 365-acre dairy farm on the Rhode River to the Smithsonian Institution.The next year, the Chesapeake Center for Field Biology was established on the site of this former dairy farm. A $375,000 grant from the Ford Foundation was awarded and another $550,000 in other grants followed by the end of 1969. These funds were used to purchase another 568 additional acres adjoining the original parcel.
In 1970, the Chesapeake Bay Center for Field Biology was renamed to the Chesapeake Bay Center for Environmental Studies (CBCES) and land acquisition continued.In 1974, Jim Lynch was hired as the first on-site staff scientist. Lynch had recently finished his Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley in Zoology.
The 2,600 acre site occupied by SERC contains coastal plain forests, land used for agriculture, wetlands and marshes, and brackish environments.
SERC conducts research on topics that include terrestrial, atmospheric, and estuarine environmental research within the disciplines of botany, ecology, environmental education, biology, chemistry, mathematics, microbiology, physics, and zoology. The center trains interns and graduate students, including pre-doctoral and doctoral students. Annually, the center receives over 10,000 students, teachers, and families who come to visit. It gives advice, consultation, and testimony to local, state, federal, and international governmental agencies, natural resource managers, policy makers, and conservation organizations.
The facility serves as a center of research and education on human impacts in land-sea interactions of the coastal zone. The center receives $20,000,000 in extramural grants and contracts funded from governmental agencies, foundations, and industry.
SERC developed and maintains an extensive database of invasive species in marine and estuarine ecosystems. The database tracks details on over 500 invasive species throughout coastal North America. SERC coordinates with the United States Geological Survey, which has developed a similar database for freshwater invasions, and has worked with marine centers in other nations to study marine invasions.
The center has been an innovator of biotelemetry to track behavior, habitat use, and movement of blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus), a marine predator and a valuable crustacean fishery in North America. They are the patent holder for the Spectral Radiometer, the national standard for monitoring solar radiation. The center has developed a model for testing estuarine water quality and watershed nutrient discharges.
An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea.
The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of 29 protected areas established by partnerships between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and coastal states. The reserves represent different biogeographic regions of the United States. The National Estuarine Research Reserve System protects more than 1.3 million acres of coastal and estuarine habitats for long-term research, water-quality monitoring, education, and coastal stewardship.
The Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary protects the wildlife, habitats, and cultural resources of one of the most diverse and bountiful marine environments in the world, an area of 3,295 square miles off the northern and central California coast. The waters within Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary are part of a nationally significant marine ecosystem, and support an abundance of life, including many threatened or endangered species.
The Ballona Wetlands State Ecological Reserve are located in Los Angeles County, California, just south of Marina del Rey and east of Playa del Rey. The natural wetlands once included the areas now taken up by Marina del Rey, New Amsterdam Canals of Venice, Playa Vista, northern Playa del Rey, and formerly extended northerly beyond Venice Boulevard to the historical Venice Canals that are now covered in asphalt with 6 streets.
Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, located in Wells, Maine, USA, is 2,250 acres (9.1 km2) of protected land headquartered at a restored saltwater farm called Laudholm. As a National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Wells Reserve works to expand knowledge of coasts and estuaries, engage people in environmental learning, and involve communities in conservation, all with a goal of protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems around the Gulf of Maine. Wells Reserve funding is largely through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the nonprofit Laudholm Trust.
The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is located along the tidal Patuxent River in southern Maryland, United States. It was established in 1985 and is operated by the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks. It includes more than 1,500 acres (6.1 km2) of tidal freshwater wetlands, forests, meadows and fields. The wetlands, with large stands of aquatic plants including wild rice, are home to many birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Miles of trails and boardwalks traverse a variety of habitats and provide glimpses into the rich history of the region. Notably, archaeologists have uncovered evidence of a large Native American settlement at Jug Bay which spanned 2 miles along the Patuxent, with the oldest arrowhead-like artifact dated between 8,000 to 8,900 years old.
The Chesapeake Bay Program is the regional partnership that directs and conducts the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay in the United States. As a partnership, the Chesapeake Bay Program brings together members of various state, federal, academic and local watershed organizations to build and adopt policies that support Chesapeake Bay restoration. By combining the resources and unique strengths of each individual organization, the Chesapeake Bay Program is able to follow a unified plan for restoration. The program office is located in Annapolis, Maryland.
The Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, located in southeastern New Jersey, encompasses over 110,000 acres (450 km²) of terrestrial, wetland and aquatic habitats within the Mullica River-Great Bay Ecosystem.
Rookery Bay Reserve protects 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands on the gulf coast of Florida, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve represents one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America.
Elkhorn Slough is a 7-mile-long (11 km) tidal slough and estuary on Monterey Bay in Monterey County, California. The community of Moss Landing and the Moss Landing Power Plant are located at the mouth of the slough on the bay.
The Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) is a private, nonprofit organization that was created in 1971. At that time, the members of two regionally based organizations, the Atlantic Estuarine Research Society (AERS) and the New England Estuarine Research Society (NEERS) recognized the need for a third estuarine organization that would address national estuarine and coastal issues. Today, CERF is a multidisciplinary federation of members and seven regionally based affiliate societies dedicated to the understanding and wise stewardship of estuaries and coasts worldwide.
The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) is one of the largest marine research and education centers in the United States. Founded in 1940, VIMS is unique among marine science institutions in its legal mandate to provide research, education, and advisory service to government, citizens, and industry. Funding for VIMS comes from the Commonwealth of Virginia, grants and contracts from federal and state agencies, and private giving. The School of Marine Science (SMS) at VIMS is the graduate school in marine science for the College of William & Mary. Offering both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in marine science, the school has 57 faculty members, an enrollment of 80-100 students, and includes 4 academic departments. VIMS' main campus is located in Gloucester Point, Virginia.
The Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve is a large contiguous complex of wetland, terrestrial, and marine environments on the Texas Coastal Bend in the United States. Named for the two major rivers that flow into the area, the reserve contains public and private lands and waters. The land is primarily coastal prairie with unique oak motte habitats. The wetlands include riparian habitat, freshwater marshes, and saltwater marshes. Within the water areas, the bays are large, open, and include extensive tidal flats, seagrass meadows, mangroves, and oyster reefs. These unique and diverse estuarine habitats in the western Gulf of Mexico support a host of endangered and threatened species including the endangered whooping crane.
Designated in 1991, the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve - Virginia (CBNERR-VA) is one of 29 protected areas that make up the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS). Established to promote informed management of the nation's estuaries and coastal habitats, national estuarine research reserves inspire solutions for healthy coasts and maintain strong local economies, effectively functioning as America's bridge between freshwater and salt.
Mangrove ecosystems represent natural capital capable of producing a wide range of goods and services for coastal environments and communities and society as a whole. Some of these outputs, such as timber, are freely exchanged in formal markets. Value is determined in these markets through exchange and quantified in terms of price. Mangroves are important for aquatic life and home for many species of fish.
Donald F. Boesch is a professor of marine science and, from 1990 to 2017, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. From 2006-2017, he concurrently served as Vice Chancellor for Environmental Sustainability for the University System of Maryland. In 2010, he was appointed by President Barack Obama as a member of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling to investigate the root causes of the blowout at the Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory (CMIL), formerly known as the Coastal Waters Laboratory, is an academic laboratory operated by the College of Sciences of San Diego State University (SDSU), in the Point Loma district of San Diego, California.
Michael J. Kennish is an American marine scientist and a research professor in the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He is best known for his work on the effects of human activities on estuarine and marine environments.
Denise Breitburg is an American marine ecologist specializing in the effects of deoxygenation on marine systems and organisms such as oysters and jellyfish. She is Principal Investigator, and Senior Scientist, at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC).
Melanie Harrison Okoro is a marine estuarine and environmental scientist. She is the founder, CEO, and principal of Eco-Alpha Environmental & Engineering Services. Okoro focuses on environmental aquatic biogeochemistry, professional natural resource management, and STEM diversity initiatives. She is the first African-American women early-career scientist to serve on the Council of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).