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Estuarine Ecology and Human Health
The estuaries of Northeastern North Carolina are a valuable natural and economic resource. Tourists and residents are drawn to their natural beauty and recreational value while the fishing community rely on their bounty for economic prosperity. The natural variables that once dominated and shaped our estuarine systems are now matched by the increasing pressures of coastal development and human derived impacts. It is the goal of this program area to improve our understanding of estuarine function and its relationship to human activities while providing valuable data and information to decision makers, educators and the public to answer the pressing issues and questions of the region.


Ocean Outfall Stormwater MonitoringStormwater ocean outfall
This project is designed to investigate the key microbial pollutants found within stormwater found in Dare County’s nine ocean outfalls. In addition, UNC-CSI scientists are working to identify the concentrations and likely sources of these microorganisms while providing measures of patterns of loading within the outfall systems in both storm and ambient conditions. A second phase of the project will look at alleviating some of these impacts though best management practices that help reduce the sources of pollution. 
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Sustainable Estuarine Shoreline Stabilization
Bulkheads are a common shoreline stabilzation method. This project examines the ecosystem structure and function associated with bulkheaded shorelines. In addition, the project will assess ecosystem impacts of alternative shoreline stabilization approaches such as offshore stone sills, oyster reefs and salt marshes. The data from this project will provide us with a better understanding of the problems and challenges associated with estuarine shoreline erosion and stabilization.
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Albemarle/Pamlico Coastal Lake Research
UNC-CSI researchers have been studying many of the lakes found within the Albemarle/Pamlico lake system. Sediment cores are used by UNC-CSI scientists to gain insight into lake formation and history while nutrient bioassays and plankton sampling allow researchers to understand the function of these current systems. The data gained from this research can be used to assist in the management of these fragile natural resources.

>>More on Lake Mattamuskeet


For more information on the Coastal Studies Institute's Estuarine Ecology and Human Health research programs, contact
Dr. Michael Piehler

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UNC Coastal Studies Institute
UNC Coastal Studies Institute
850 NC 345, Wanchese, NC 27981 tel. 252-475-5400 fax 252- 475-3545