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USGS Scientists on Team Honored by Excellence in Partnering Award
Four U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists were members of a project team that won the National Oceanographic Partnership Program’s (NOPP) 2011 Excellence in Partnering Award: Amanda Demopoulos (Southeast Ecological Science Center, Gainesville, Florida), Cheryl Morrison (Leetown Science Center, Kearneysville, West Virginia), Christina Kellogg (St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, St. Petersburg, Florida), and Nancy Prouty (Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, Santa Cruz, California).
The 2011 award recognizes the achievements of the “Lophelia II” project team, led by Charles Fisher of Pennsylvania State University and James Brooks of TDI Brooks International, Inc. The work of project team Lophelia II involved the exploration and research of deepwater natural and artificial hard-bottom habitats in the northern Gulf of Mexico, with an emphasis on coral communities. Deepwater coral habitats are biodiversity hotspots and significant biological resources with both intrinsic and socio-economic value.
The Lophelia II project completed its last research cruise in July 2012 in the Gulf of Mexico, where it discovered Lophelia coral growing deeper than previously seen anywhere in the Gulf. (Learn more about this cruise—the first dedicated scientific study of deep-sea corals on actively producing oil and gas platforms—at http://www.oceanleadership.org/2012/joint-boem-noaa-usgs-mission-discovers-record-depth-for-lophelia-coral-on-gulf-of-mexico-energy-platforms/ and http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/12lophelia/welcome.html.) Information from all the Lophelia II cruises will inform future environmental review and decision making for the protection of deepwater corals.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) were the NOPP contributing agencies for the Lophelia II project. The project was nominated for the NOPP Excellence in Partnering Award by BOEM for its exceptionally diverse partnerships between scientists, graduate students, technicians, public outreach professionals, and industry professionals from 3 federal agencies, 11 private companies, and 5 universities.
The award was presented October 15, 2012, during the Oceans 2012 Conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
“As a Program that is built on successful collaboration and coordination, the NOPP Office is pleased to honor the Lophelia II project team with the 2011 Excellence in Partnership Award for exhibiting exemplary partnerships in ocean science,” said Allison Miller, NOPP Office Program Manager. “The Program Office applauds the contributing agencies of this project for supporting and nominating such a diverse, first-of-its-kind deep-sea coral study.”
For more information about the 2011 Excellence in Partnering Award, visit http://www.nopp.org/2012/national-oceanographic-partnership-program-honors-2011-excellence-in-partnering-award-recipients/.
USGS participation in the Lophelia II project is part of the USGS Diversity, Systematics, and Connectivity of Vulnerable Reef Ecosystems (DISCOVRE) Project (http://fl.biology.usgs.gov/DISCOVRE/), an integrated, multidisciplinary effort investigating deep-sea communities from the microscopic to the ecosystem level. USGS DISCOVRE scientists recently completed the second cruise of a 4-year project to study the biology, geology, and oceanography of a series of canyons off the U.S. middle Atlantic coast (see http://deepwatercanyons.wordpress.com/about/ and http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/12midatlantic/welcome.html).
As part of the Ecosystems Mission Area, the USGS deep-sea coral research is supported by the Terrestrial, Freshwater, and Marine Environments Program Outer Continental Shelf funds under the guidance of Colleen Charles.
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