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NOAA Awards Over $1 Million to Fund Research to Detect and Assess Hypoxia and Toxins

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded $1,201,201 to the University of Southern Mississippi to study the combined effects of toxic chemicals and hypoxia on the nation’s coastal waters. This study will investigate how a specific carcinogenic environmental contaminant and hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, affect embryonic and early larval development stages of fish.

“The nation’s estuaries are a key ecosystem component and enhanced knowledge is critical to resource management in our coasts,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “NOAA’s partnership with the University of Southern Mississippi will help create the tools needed to improve understanding of how environmental pollution affects coastal resources.”

Over-enrichment of a water body with nutrients and the subsequent hypoxia are major factors responsible for declines in habitat quality and harvestable resources in estuarine ecosystems. Over-enrichment is often accompanied and made more severe by the addition of toxic chemicals from urban runoff, sewage treatment plants, and pesticides and herbicides from agricultural runoff. These declines in habitat quality threaten the functioning of estuarine ecosystems with potential serious consequences for recreationally and commercially important fisheries. Studies on how hypoxia and environmental contaminants affect the development of fish are needed, as little, if anything is known about the combined effects of these pollutants on fish, the researchers say.

The University of Southern Mississippi is working with Texas State University in a program called the Aquatic Research Consortium whose goal is to track and describe genetic changes caused by unfavorable environmental conditions.

This is the third in a three-part study on model organism fish. The first two studies focused on the establishment of tools for investigation of stress responses in the fish.

The National Ocean Service’s Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research (CSCOR), one of the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Research has awarded up to $30 million annually to academic, state, tribal, and Federal partners to assist NOAA in the study of our coastal oceans. CSCOR research provides decision makers with reliable and timely scientific information. These research programs are critical to the NOAA mission of predicting environmental change, managing ocean resources and protecting life and property. NOAA-sponsored research programs like the Aquatic Research Consortium demonstrate NOAA’s commitment to these basic responsibilities of science and service to the nation.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with our federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

Source: NOAA (05-R960)

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