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Nine Long Island Sound research studies receive federal funding

Great Marsh Meadows.
Sabrina Garone
Great Marsh Meadows.

Nine research projects studying the Long Island Sound have received funding from the Connecticut and New York Sea Grant programs and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Island Sound Study Research Grant Program.

The nine projects will be supported by $4.2 million in federal funds and $2.1 million in matching funds.

The projects will take place over the next two years.

Coastal restoration tactics

One project, led by Chris Elphick in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut, will explore coastal restoration tactics in the Stratford Great Meadows.

There are already efforts underway to protect the marshes, which provide a home for wildlife and recreational activities, like fishing, for locals.

Elphick said it’s important to preserve the areas.

“With the rate at which sea levels are rising, a lot of these marshes are changing and deteriorating in many ways,” Elphick said. “And so a lot of work is being done to restore them. And we are studying how effective that is.”

Beach access

Stony Brook University associate professors Anil Yazici and Elizabeth Hewitt will look at barriers to accessing Long Island beaches.

They will shuttle residents who do not have access to transportation to beaches on Long Island Sound, and study the changing attitudes of people who have not historically had access to the coast.

“We're so dependent on cars that if you don't have a car, you're really missing out on a lot of opportunities,” Hewitt said. “And one of those opportunities that this project is focused on is access to natural resources.”

Changing water conditions’ impact on fish and crustaceans 

Yong Chen of Stony Brook University will study the impacts of changing water temperature on fish and crustaceans.

He will observe cold and warm water species that are adapting to a new environment due to climate change.

Chen said while it is disheartening to see species struggle to adapt, it is also interesting to see new animals migrate to warmer climates.

“We should see the new opportunity, some new, more abundant, warm water species who will be in those areas,” Chen said. “And maybe we lose some cold water species. But at the same time, we will probably also see new fisheries that can be supported by the warm water, species like a blue crab, for example.”

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.