‘Underdogs’ and oil spills: Impacts, recovery, and restoration

Using the underdogs of the animal world to gain insights into impacts, recovery, and restoration after oil spills

Seminar and webinar
Tuesday, August 13, 2019,
9 am – 2 pm Central
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services Refuge Complex, 61389 LA-434, Lacombe, LA 70445

Foraminifera? Periwinkles? Larval fish? Insects? Few people outside of the scientific community consider the impacts to these organisms when an oil spill occurs. Yet these organisms can be critical players in their ecosystems and could be used to guide restoration efforts. Each of our guest speakers give insights into the ecological role of these organisms, how oil impacts them and their environment, and how their recoveries can be used to inform restoration efforts.

This seminar is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided to participants who register online by August 8. It will also be live-streamed for those who cannot attend in person. Click here to register in advance for the webinar.

Please click this link to join the webinar the day of the event.
Webinar ID: 211 970 676
Sound should stream automatically through your computer, or dial US: +1 646 876 9923 or +1 408 638 0968  or +1 669 900 6833 for telephone access.
International numbers available here.

Speakers and topics

Topic: Foraminifera

Schwing_photoPatrick Schwing is a research associate at the University of South Florida, College of Marine Science and a visiting assistant professor at Eckerd College.  His research program is heavily focused on quantitatively characterizing the extent and intensity of human impacts on marine seafloor systems to provide actionable information and decision support tools for resource managers.  He has been active in the assessing diverse human activities including land-use and watershed development impacts on near-shore environments, the consequences of marine mineral and energy extraction, and the seafloor distribution and impacts of microplastics on deep-sea environments.

Topic: Zooplankton & Ichthyoplankton

Hernadez_photoFrank Hernandez is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Coastal Sciences at the University of Southern Mississippi. His research interests include the biology and ecology marine fish early life stages (eggs, larvae, and juveniles), and the oceanographic and environmental factors that determine their abundance, distribution, and survival to adult stages. Dr. Hernandez is a Louisiana native, and has been involved with fisheries research in the Gulf of Mexico for over 20 years. He has a BS degree (Zoology) from LSU, a MS degree (Marine Biology) from UNCW, and a PhD (Oceanography and Coastal Sciences) from LSU.

Topic: Sturgeon, Alligator gar, Fur-bearers, & Vegetation…oh my!

Kimmel_photoKayla Kimmel has been a fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the program of Fish and Aquatic Conservation for the past 12 years in the Southeast Region. She has primarily worked with species listed as threatened or endangered, such as Gulf sturgeon, or species of concern like the Alligator gar and the habitats in which they live. She also works catastrophic response to events such as fish kill, oil spill, and hurricane. Kayla completed both her bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology and Master’s degree in fisheries science from Louisiana State University. Outside of work, she enjoys hunting, fishing, and gardening.

Fortier_photoBarret Fortier is a Senior Wildlife Biologist for the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Southeast Louisiana Refuges Complex.  He coordinates the biological program for 9 refuges, which encompasses various coastal restoration and habitat management projects. During his tenure with the USFWS he has also served as the Regional Energy Coordinator and Assistant Refuge Manager.  He has over 16 years of oil spill response experience. Barret holds both a BS in Wildlife and Fisheries Science and a MS in Wildlife Biology from LSU.

Topic: Fiddler crabs & Marsh periwinkle 

Zengel_photoScott Zengel is a Vice President and Environmental Scientist with Research Planning, Inc. (RPI), based in Tallahassee, Florida. He has been a member of NOAA’s Scientific Support Team for over 15 years and often serves as a shoreline assessment lead during oil spill response. On the research front he was a Principal Investigator for fiddler crab and marsh periwinkle studies under the DWH NRDA injury assessment and is a Co-PI on a current GoMRI research grant working on a synthesis of coastal marsh impacts and recovery following DWH. He has also been involved with Gulf restoration programs under NRDA and the RESTORE Act.

Topic: Insects & Spiders

Linda Hooper-Bùi is a Professor of Environmental Sciences at LSU who becameHooper-Bui_photo intensely interested in coastal issues through research on fire ant flood survival strategies. She, along with undergraduate students she mentored, discovered that coastal fire ants have changed their behavior and physiology in response to sea-level rise. Since then, she has worked on disturbance ecology in the Gulf of Mexico responding to the BP drilling disaster and the recent Roseau cane dieback. Her work showed that insects and spiders are acutely and chronically impacted by oil and that impact is exacerbated by hurricanes. She leads research on the effect of restoration practices on the Gulf plant and animal community and investigates impacts of climate sloshings and forcings on coastal plants and animals. Another major effort is her work promoting persistence in STEM education in K-12 and with creating mentoring networks in University STEM education in the United States. She is the director of LSU’s award-winning chapter of EnvironMentors, a mentored environmental science program for Scotlandville High School students.

Topic: Analyzing marsh food webs

Polito_photoMichael Polito is an assistant professor in the LSU Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences in the College of the Coast & Environment. He is an ecologist with a focus on the food web dynamics of marine and coastal ecosystems ranging from Louisiana to Antarctica, and many places in between. His research uses stable isotope and other geochemical biomarkers to explore species’ ecological responses to environmental stressors such as oil spills and climate change, and evaluate the ecological implications of coastal restoration and fisheries management strategies.  He is the recipient of the 2018 LSU Alumni Association Rising Faculty Research Award and the 2016 Tiger Athletic Foundation Undergraduate Teaching Award. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, Louisiana Sea Grant, the Louisiana Board of Regents and other sources. His published research has been profiled by the New York Times, BBC News, The Wall Street Journal and Scientific American among other national and international publications. Polito has been an assistant professor at LSU since 2014. Prior to that, he received his Ph.D. in marine biology from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and conducted postdoctoral research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Featured photo: Acrobat ants (Bernard DuPont)