Focus Area

Ecosystem-based Management

Whether it’s working on flood reduction measures or understanding sea level rise impacts, the complex nature of ecosystem-based management demands an integrated approach. While scientific understanding of landscape change and ecology can be used to predict how the natural system will transform and adapt, the needs of residents, communities and economies must also be considered in the development of effective management approaches.

Ecosystem-based management is an approach that recognizes the full array of interactions within an ecosystem, including humans, which builds upon the study of species or ecosystem functions.   

As Louisiana moves forward with one of the largest ecosystem management programs in history outlined in the 2017 Coastal Master Plan, the Institute’s work on the plan and subsequent supportive science to inform the implementation of the program has been key.

Using the Integrated Compartment Model to determine how different coastal projects could interact with each other and the environment, the Institute provided the foundational work giving Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority the ability to choose the most effective suite of projects for inclusion in the plan. In another example, studying the blue crab’s ability to use the ever-increasing density of black mangroves along the coast will provide vital information for fisheries management for a species that supports Louisiana careers, incomes, and culture.

The fate of coastal wetlands in the face of accelerating sea-level rise and sinking of land is an issue of national and international concern, but effects on coastal industrial facilities, critical and essential infrastructure for coastal communities, and centuries of cultural heritage must also be considered.

The Water Institute has a track record of integrated analysis of water issues directly related to watershed management from the post-2016 flood work along the Amite River to our supporting science for the 2017 Louisiana Coastal Master Plan. Institute staff works with stakeholders and government agencies at multiple levels to understand needs, collects data, and develop tools tailored to the demands of both society and the environment. This information, including social and economic considerations, feeds into our work in watershed, landscape, and ecosystem modeling which in turn provides the support decision makers need for the planning, design, and operation of potential solutions.

Our skills in this area include field deployment of fixed sensors, surveying, integrated data collection experiments across environments from source to sink, statistical analysis, GIS analysis, real-time forecasting systems, and predictive and hindcasting numerical modeling that includes hydrology, hydraulics, groundwater, water quality and ecology.

Key Projects

Impact of black mangrove expansion in coastal Louisiana

With fewer winters experiencing extended periods of freezing temperatures, the black mangrove has been expanding in sout...

Looking for blue crab preferences in a changing coastal environment

Despite coastal land loss, Louisiana’s coastline and estuaries support some of the most productive and economically impo...