Stuart Borrett Selected as a Keynote Speaker at the Estuarine & Coastal Sciences Association Conference in Germany

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Stuart Borrett, systems ecologist and associate professor of biology and marine biology, was a keynote speaker during the 56th Estuarine & Coastal Sciences Association conference in Bremen, Germany, Sept. 4-7. His topic was “Applying Ecological Network Analysis to Understand Changing Coastal Ecosystems.” The theme of this year’s conference was “Coastal Systems in Transition.”

“A global presence is one of the key components of UNCW’s strategic plan and our marine science programs have earned widespread respect,” said Aswani Volety, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “It is an honor for Dr. Borrett to be chosen to share his expertise at this international conference.”

Borrett is affiliated with the Center for Marine Science and is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Duke University Network Analysis Center. He developed a mathematical approach to study coastal and marine ecosystems such as estuaries, salt marshes, sand dunes, seagrass beds and coral reefs. These systems provide fisheries production, recreation, protection from storms and improved water quality, among other functions.

The software developed in Borrett’s lab allows scientists to investigate ecosystem connectivity and how it is affected by environmental changes such as coastal urbanization and climate change.

As part of his presentation Borrett discussed a study he conducted with former student David Hines ’10M, ’15 Ph.D. to study how sea level rise might change the ability of the Cape Fear River estuary to remove nitrogen, which in high levels is a pollutant. The research suggested that the ecosystem would continue to remove excess nitrogen, but higher salinity caused by rising sea levels could cause changes to the removal process.

During the conference, Borrett led a workshop to teach other scientists on how to use the ecological network analysis tools developed in his lab. He also conducted a seminar at the Institute of Biology, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, and the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries.

ECSA is an international organization that promotes excellence in estuarine and coastal marine science, technology and management and focuses on promoting early-career scientists and academics. The association also engages in global outreach, especially to developing countries.

-- Tricia Vance