MANTA Noon Seminars

A person giving a lecture in a room of people. The Seminar sessions include a variety of topics, including conservation ecology from local to worldwide scales. Attend one of these presentations and enjoy a trip to the ends of the world, an education on the local stream conditions, or get a preview of the newest installation at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Below is the agenda for upcoming sessions and short summaries of each.

All Seminars take place at:

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
C-1 Conference Room (unless noted otherwise)
Tawes Office Building
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland

2019 Seminars

May 16, 2019

Banding, Telemetry and DNA Studies of Fall Migrant Soras on the Patuxent River at Jug Bay Natural Area, 2017-2018

Greg Kearns
Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission

In 1987 Greg Kearns collaborated with the U.S. Geological Survey to pioneer better trapping techniques, digital sound lures and radio telemetry to study sora rail migration and stopover use of Patuxent River wetlands. In 1998, 1,300 rails were banded. Two years later, 100 birds were banded. Greg and colleagues found that growing numbers of resident Canada geese were likely causing wild rice declines in the area. This discovery led to an ambitious restoration effort, involving participation from landowners and the installation of miles of fencing to keep resident geese out of wild rice plots. This work, along with managed hunting, has allowed for a dramatic recovery of wild rice in the Jug Bay wetlands.

Now, over 20 years later, Grants from the Cove Point Natural Heritage Trust, along with private and government support, have Greg and his team trapping and banding sora rails once more. The team is also fitting rails with transmitters that connect to a vast network of automated tracking stations throughout eastern North America. In this MANTA noon seminar, Greg will share insight on his past research and reveal new discoveries from his current work.

March 21, 2019

Hydrologic monitoring for research and management: do we really need it?

Keith N. Eshleman
Appalachian Laboratory, UMCES, Frostburg, MD

Monitoring data can: a) play a critical role in the scientific process by producing novel observations (sometimes serendipitously) that could support or refute a particular theory; or b) serve as a “gold standard” for evaluating our level of understanding of a particular system or determining the effectiveness of a particular management action. Dr. Eshleman will provide two examples from his recent hydrologic monitoring experience that demonstrate how effective monitoring data can contribute to addressing two current environmental issues— nonpoint source pollution and urban stormwater runoff.

February 21, 2019

Effects of a Stream Restoration on Water Quality and Fluxes of Nutrients and Suspended Solids

Tom Jordan
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

The need to reduce inputs of nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended solids to Chesapeake Bay has motivated restoration of eroded streams in the Bay’s watershed. We compared mass balances of nutrients and suspended solids in a stream reach before and after it was restored by filling the deeply eroded channel with a layer of gravel topped with a sand and woodchip mixture. After restoration 45-50% of the phosphate, total phosphorus, ammonium, and total nitrogen entering the restored reach was retained.

The restoration also affected the hydraulic gradients and chemical composition of groundwater in the stream bed and adjacent floodplain. Before restoration, the water table sloped toward the deeply incised channel, suggesting that groundwater was emerging into the channel. This pattern was reversed after restoration and concentrations of dissolved phosphate and ammonium in groundwater decreased while concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), oxygen, and iron increased.

After the restoration, iron oxidizing bacteria spread over the stream bed in some sections of the restored reach and the concentration of dissolved oxygen in surface water leaving the reach dropped to <1 mg/L while the concentration entering was about 8 mg/L. The oxygen depletion of the surface water may have been due to release of dissolved iron and DOC from groundwater followed by oxidation of the iron and respiration of the DOC by bacteria. The highest DOC concentrations in groundwater were under the stream bed, suggesting that the woodchips in the channel fill were the DOC source.

2018 Seminars

January 18, 2018

A Comprehensive Approach to Understand Wild Fish Health

Heather Walsh
USGS Leetown Science Center

Fish are often used as biomarkers of environmental changes and respond in multiple ways. Research based on wild fish surveys and monitoring work provides useful information that is applicable to real world issues, and provides region-specific normality and health anomalies.

For example, in the Chesapeake Bay drainage, smallmouth bass have experienced disease and mortality, yet the cause remains unknown. Long-term monitoring studies have identified factors which may contribute to disease such as contaminants, immunosuppression, pathogens and water quality.

In an effort to better understand disease in wild fish, multiple techniques such as in situ hybridization, gene expression analyses and laser capture microdissection can be used. Development of these techniques can also be applied in other fish health studies and provide a comprehensive approach to exploring causes of disease.

February 15, 2018

Floodplain Restoration

Jim Morris, P.E.
Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson

In this presentation, the methodology of floodplain restoration will be presented in its historic and geologic consequences, benefits and challenges in the contemporary landscape. Basic total maximum daily load (TMDL) computations will be presented for a project in Washington, DC comparing the various protocols including the floodplain restoration-specific TMDL crediting calculations (Protocol 3) for floodplain restoration projects, and how this approach can apply to the TMDL goals for the Chesapeake Bay.

March 15, 2018

Improving Understanding of Maryland River Chub Populations: Synopsis of a Five Year Study of Nesting Ecology

Stanley Kemp, Ph.D
University of Baltimore

River chub are an interesting and important component of Maryland’s warmwater fish community. Through construction of nesting habitat which other gravel nesting species share, they are considered to be a keystone species. River chub populations and their nest associates are vulnerable to watershed disturbance, and are missing from many urbanized streams in Maryland. A key ingredient in the construction of effective restoration and protection strategies is accurate knowledge of species’ habitat needs and stressors. For river chub, like many freshwater species, there is much information relevant to their conservation that needs to be documented.

This talk will focus on Maryland’s populations of river chub, their importance, and their nesting ecology. A synopsis of research conducted on the nesting ecology of three local river chub populations will be presented, in conjunction with potential application to stream and watershed restoration science. This will include data on nesting sites and characteristics, nest associates, and the vulnerability of river chub nests to high flows. Underwater videos of river chub nesting activities from our study populations will be presented.


April 19, 2018

Evaluating stream restoration success through priority pollutant load reductions using data from Red Hill Branch in Howard County, Maryland

Colin Hill
Senior Environmental Scientist
KCI Technologies

Under the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund program, pre- and post-restoration monitoring was performed over a 7-year period at the Brampton Hills stream restoration project site located in Ellicott City to assess reductions in priority pollutant loads.

The restoration included bank and bed stabilization efforts and limited floodplain reconnection for approximately 3,100 linear feet of stream channel, in addition to outfall stabilization. Water quality sampling, both baseflow and stormflow, was performed for two years before restoration and five years after restoration. However, the flow gauging data during the pre-restoration period was deemed unreliable after failing quality control checks.

Consequently, an alternative procedure was developed using precipitation data to derive modeled storm flows using Stormwater Management Model, calibrated using verified gauged flow data, as well as derived base flows to create an annual flow record at five-minute intervals. Annual loads for total nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended solids were estimated within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers FLUX32 Load Estimation program and compared between pre- and post-restoration rates to obtain estimates of reductions.

Estimated reduction rates per linear foot are higher at Brampton Hills compared to current interim removal rates approved by the Maryland Department of the Environment. Results indicate greater than expected reductions in sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus.


May 17, 2018

E-Reporting with FACTSTM: How real-time commercial harvest reporting offers new options for watermen and fisheries managers

Carrie Kennedy and Stephanie Richards
Fishing and Boating Services
Maryland Department of Natural Resources

The need for accurate, verifiable and enforceable commercial harvest data is a concern for both fisheries management and industry. Without such data, fisheries are managed under complex regulatory structures to help ensure sustainability.

Developed in partnership with industry, E-Reporting with FACTSTM uses readily available technology to provide a real-time harvest activity information. This allows managers to make timely decisions based on the most accurate information available. For the commercial watermen who choose this reporting option, it is a business tool that provides specific regulatory flexibilities and 24/7 access to their harvest records.

During the presentation, Carrie and Stephanie will put the challenges facing commercial harvest reporting in context and demonstrate how the web-based electronic reporting system, FACTSTM, works.

December 20, 2018

From the Sky to Fish: An Evolving Understanding of Mercury in Maryland Ecosystems

Dr. Andrew Heyes
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

For more than a century, human-caused mercury pollution has contaminated Maryland’s ecosystems. While emissions reduction efforts are ongoing, there is a need to quantify these reductions and the responses to them.

Due to such prolonged contamination, a substantial pool of mercury exists, which greatly complicates our ability to measure progress. Therefore, it is essential to understand how mercury is cycled, along with assessing changes in atmospheric loading.

Other factors influence the mercury methylation process as well. The transformation of mercury into an organic form results in a compound that is both more toxic and more readily bioaccumulated through the food web. Understanding these factors is complicated by the fact that Maryland ecosystems are not static.

In this seminar, I will discuss internationally recognized research being conducted in Maryland, by Maryland scientists, studying deposition, fate, transformation and accumulation of mercury into food webs, and the factors which impact the levels of mercury we see in our fish.