News Release

Fowler receives funding for project assessing introduced marine organisms

Grant and Award Announcement

George Mason University

Amy Fowler, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science and Policy, received funding for a project in which 13 marine biologists and specialized taxonomists and four graduate students will sample 13 marinas from Sandy Hook, New Jersey to Norfolk, Virginia. Their goal is to provide an inventory of algae and invertebrates associated with pontoons and other artificial structures.

Analyses such as these, called Rapid Assessment Surveys (RASs), provide unparalleled opportunities for detecting novel species invasions during the early phases of establishment and for monitoring the spread of previously established invaders.

The specimens the researchers collect will be identified at three host university marine laboratories on the coast. Local scientists based at each of the marine laboratories will be invited to share their expertise, allowing for the potential creation of new collaborations. Of critical importance is the training of the next generation of taxonomists through the immersion of graduate students working with experts on identification techniques. The researchers will prepare an entire community voucher and preserve all species, some of which may require further identification through genetic analysis or confirmation by global experts. They will also work with state Sea Grant offices in public outreach efforts through social media and local media interviews.

Fowler received $14,130 from the U.S. Department of the Interior for this project. Funding began in September 2020 and will end in late August 2022.


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