FSU professor in charge of ‘Operation Dead Zone’

FSU professor in charge of ‘Operation Dead Zone’

By Doug Blackburn, DEMOCRAT SENIOR WRITER
November 9, 2009, Tallahassee Democrat

Dead zones are areas suffering from low oxygen, called hypoxia by scientists. The low oxygen is the result of nutrient pollution, believed to be caused by fertilizer use in the Midwest that seeps into the Mississippi River and flows into the Gulf.

“What’s not really known is how the dead zone impacts fish and other marine life,” Craig said. “We’re focusing quite a bit on the shrimp industry, and its impact on other marine life.”

Craig is the lead researcher in the collaborative project that includes Martin Smith, an economics professor at Duke, and Jim Nance, a shrimp biologist at the National Marine Fisheries Service in Galveston, Texas. At least two FSU graduate students will take part in the study.

“I think our goal is to understand how the low oxygen is impacting the ecology of the system along with the economic aspects. It’s a pretty complex issue,” Craig said.

As shrimp and other marine life move out of the dead zones, savvy fishermen follow them. Craig and his team will investigate if this phenomenon leads to over-exploitation of the shrimp.

Their study could have global implications, because the number of dead zones worldwide has doubled every decade since the 1960s. There are believed to be as many as 400 hypoxic zones.

“One of the things that’s important to recognize is that this isn’t happening just in the Gulf,” said Felicia Coleman, director of FSU’s Coastal & Marine Laboratory. “We’re trying to do the kind of science that will help inform policy decisions. Dr. Craig’s study fits in incredibly well for our mission.”

It pairs well with the university’s overall approach to research.

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Approximately one of every five faculty members (400 of 2,000) at FSU is devoted primarily to research, according to Kirby Kemper, vice president for research, and they are expected to generate most of their salary through state and federal grants. FSU faculty received a record 1,200 grant awards totaling roughly $200 million during the 2008-09 school year.

“Most of our research is done collaboratively. You have people who have expertise and you put them together as a team to solve a problem,” Kemper said.

About five years ago FSU decided to spend almost $500,000 to upgrade the marine lab in Franklin County.

“Studies of the Gulf are just critical,” Kemper said. “It contributes enormously to the state of Florida, and we have to understand it.

“To me, Kevin’s grant is just proving that our thoughts about the concerns regarding the eastern Gulf are a critical thing,” Kemper added. “It sort of vindicates our decision to enhance the opportunities at the marine lab.”

Some of Craig’s work will be done at the marine lab, but he will also oversee aerial surveys in the Gulf.

“We’re in the initial stage of collecting historical data,” Craig said. “Beginning in late spring we’ll fly planes over the dead zone that a ship is out there mapping.

“We’re looking at this as both an ecological and economic investigation. What does this dead zone mean in terms of dollars? We hope to be able to answer that.”

Approximately one of every five faculty members (400 of 2,000) at FSU is devoted primarily to research, according to Kirby Kemper, vice president for research, and they are expected to generate most of their salary through state and federal grants. FSU faculty received a record 1,200 grant awards totaling roughly $200 million during the 2008-09 school year.

“Most of our research is done collaboratively. You have people who have expertise and you put them together as a team to solve a problem,” Kemper said.

About five years ago FSU decided to spend almost $500,000 to upgrade the marine lab in Franklin County.

“Studies of the Gulf are just critical,” Kemper said. “It contributes enormously to the state of Florida, and we have to understand it.

“To me, Kevin’s grant is just proving that our thoughts about the concerns regarding the eastern Gulf are a critical thing,” Kemper added. “It sort of vindicates our decision to enhance the opportunities at the marine lab.”

Some of Craig’s work will be done at the marine lab, but he will also oversee aerial surveys in the Gulf.

“We’re in the initial stage of collecting historical data,” Craig said. “Beginning in late spring we’ll fly planes over the dead zone that a ship is out there mapping.

“We’re looking at this as both an ecological and economic investigation. What does this dead zone mean in terms of dollars? We hope to be able to answer that.”

http://www.tallahassee.com/article/20091109/BREAKINGNEWS/91109002/FSU-professor-in-charge-of–Operation-Dead-Zone-

2017-01-17T09:22:15+00:00November 24th, 2009|News|Comments Off on FSU professor in charge of ‘Operation Dead Zone’