Bridging the gap between science and application

The mission of CTP is to provide the most up-to-date scientific information and skill building tools, such as trainings,  to key professionals (i.e.: local officials, land managers, natural resource managers, community planners, and coastal business owners) responsible for making decisions about coastal resources.

In addition to the resources and projects below, be sure to visit NOAA’s Digital Coast. This resource provides self-guided online training, training the GTM Research Reserve can host, as well as resources such as handouts, case studies, publications, videos, quick references, and more!

State of the Reserve

GuanaLakeAerial The GTM Research Reserve hosts a "State of the Reserve" symposium annually. The symposium provides an opportunity to Reserve staff, Reserve volunteers, visiting investigators, and partners to share their progress and results of their research within the GTM Research Reserve boundaries. Each year a theme guides the project presentations. This year's theme was "Celebrating 20 Years!"
9:00 a.m.- 9:45 a.m. Welcome, Introduction to the events of the day, Introduction to Eutrophication
10:00 a.m.- 10:50 a.m. Morning Breakout Sessions: Research & GTM Programs and Managing Eutrophication
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Morning Combined Session focusing on what you can do to alleviate the effects of eutrophication.
  • “RC Chat”, Rick Gleeson, Ph.D. and Nikki Dix, Ph.D.
  • Effects of the Guana Dam closure on local fish assemblages, Jimmy Tomazinis
  • Recruitment of American eels (Anguilla rostrata) to northeast Florida estuary: A long-term research partnership at the GTM NERR, Eric Johnson, Ph.D.
  • Population demographics of the brown anole lizard on spoil islands in the Guana Tolomato Matanzas Research Reserve, Daniel Warner
  • Marinas as biodiversity hot spots: good for locals or invasives?, Ed McGinley
  • Habitat mapping the GTM Research Reserve using semi-automated classification and drone imagery, Mike Dickson
  • How will mangroves and marshes respond to warming temperatures?: Early findings from the WETFEET Project, Samantha Chapman, Ph.D.
  • UNF’s Initial Attempt to Collect Wave, Current, and Wind Measurements on the Beaches of the GTM, Bill Dally, Ph.D.
  • Salinity Effects on photo-degradation of DOM along Pellicer Creek, Tracey Schafer
  • A tidal mesocosm investigation elucidating the role of belowground warming on Spartina alterniflora and Avicennia germinans species interactions and growth responses, Harris Stevens
  • After Hurricanes Irma and Matthew: Living Shorelines Stabilize Sediments, Taryn Chaya
  • Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Identifying Phytoplankton, Kai Priester
  • Challenges and Opportunities for Sustaining Southeastern US Estuaries, Michelle Taubler
  • Characterization of a Scalloped Hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) Nursery Habitat in the Atlantic Intercoastal, Bryanna Wargat
  • Did the dredging of Summer Haven River impact nearby oyster reefs?, Pam Marcum
  • Estuarine community bycatch Analysis at the Guana Dam,  Samantha Shaw and Kelly Smith, Ph.D.
  • Marine Invertebrate Biodiversity of the Matanzas River Basin, Emily Rose Sharkey
  • Matanzas Biodiversity Initiative (MatBio): Documenting our regions biological diversity in space and time, Jose Nunez
  • Oyster Spat Monitoring within the GTM Research Reserve, Ben Mowbray
  • Prevalence and diversity of parasites in American eels recruiting to the GTM NERR, Amanda Small
  • Quantifying Relationships Within Water Quality and Land Use Using Statistical Machine Learning to Improve Resource Management, Policy, and Planning, Tricia Kyzar
  • Sharks of the GTM NERR: Updated results from 9 years of shark abundance surveys conducted in the Tolomato River, Jim Gelsleichter
  • The role of glycine betaine in range expansions: protecting mangroves against extreme freeze events, Matt Hayes

Past State of the Reserve Symposiums

  • 2018: "The Art of Science in Our Community"--- presentations and posters are still being uploaded 
  • 2017: "Working Waters"
  • 2016: "Ecosystem Services"
  • 2015: "Science to Management"
  • 2014: "Changing Tides"
  • 2013: "Preserving Public Lands to Sustain Healthy Communities"
  • 2011: "Managing Partners"
  • 2010: "Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Reserve"

Coastal Connect

A Newsletter for GTM Research Reserve's Coastal Training Program

Keep up-to-date with the Coastal Training Program at the GTM Research Reserve through our quarterly newsletters. Newsletters will feature ongoing projects, previous and upcoming events, a cool tool corner, and a partner spotlight.

To subscribe to Coastal Connect, please email



Not In Your Backyard: Invasive Species

Friday, February 22, 2019 from 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.

We've partnered with St. Johns County Parks and Recreation for a lecture about invasive plant species in Northeast Florida. Ever wonder how to identify and remove plants that are "bad" for your yard and the environment? Then this lecture is for you. Participants will earn about the top coastal invasive species, how to remove them, and recommendations on natives to plant. Seating for this event is first-come, first served. This program is FREE and will be held at Anastasia Island Library.

Weed Wrangle Jacksonville

Saturday, March 2, 2019 from 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Weed Wrangle®, is a one-day, citywide, volunteer effort to help rescue our local public parks and green spaces from invasive species through hands-on removal of especially harmful trees, vines and flowering plants. Typical unwelcome plants are honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica and L. maackii), Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense), winter creeper (Euonymus fortunei), autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata var. parviflora), English ivy (Hedera helix) and kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata). Supervised by experts in invasive weed management, Weed Wrangle®-volunteers will learn, practice, and begin a habit of maintaining an area free of invasive plants and encourage replanting with natives in removal areas. By engaging our neighbors and challenging them to take action in their own spaces, we hope to create a movement that will have the greatest impact on the invasive plant population. Late Bloomers Garden Club will host the first Weed Wrangle®-Jacksonville at Walter Jones Historical Park in Mandarin on Saturday, March 3rd from 9:30-12:00. We will be concentrating on removing camphor. Bring shovels, clippers, loppers, gloves, your lunch, and water.

HMS Florida Scout Monitoring: Irish Day at Tolomato

Saturday, March 16, 2019 from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Heritage Monitoring Scouts (HMS Florida) is a public engagement program focused on tracking changes to archaeological sites at risk, particularly those impacted by climate change in the form of erosion and sea level rise. Join us for an Irish Day at Tolomato as we explore the Irish heritage and connections of those buried there. Please reserve your seat at one or all workshops by contacting Emily Jane at or 904-392-7874.

GTMNERR Management Advisory Group Meeting

March 20, 2019 from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

This meeting will be held at at the GTM Research Reserve Visitor Center in Ponte Vedra Beach. The GTMNERR Management Advisory Group (MAG) holds regular meetings on the third Wednesday of the third month of each calendar quarter of the year. Meeting agenda items are finalized approximately two weeks prior to the meeting. The MAG is comprised of 26 members from partnering agencies as well as twelve citizen appointees. The purpose of the MAG is to:
  1. Assist the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in an advisory capacity by providing recommendations to DEP on matters associated with the implementation of the GTMNERR Management Plan regarding environmental education, scientific research, and resource management strategies, which are consistent with the mission, goals and objectives of the NERR program as specified in 15 CFR Part 921 and the provisions of Section 315 of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972.
  2.  Review and make recommendations to DEP on proposals for amendments to the GTMNERR management plan.
  3.  Assist DEP in maintaining effective interagency coordination and communication among federal, state, and local governmental agencies and the public on issues regarding the management of the reserve.
  4. Support the seeking of funding to provide for land acquisition, facilities development and maintenance, scientific research, environmental monitoring, environmental education, equipment purchases, general operations expenses, and any other purpose necessary for the effective functioning of the reserve.
  5. Serve as an advisory group to the GTMNERR Coastal Training Program to guide the program to address the needs of the stakeholder groups which the MAG represents.
To RSVP for the GTMNERR MAG meeting as a member of the public email Brooke Ellis at

NOAA Adaption Planning For Coastal Communities

April 10-11, 2019 

Coastal communities increasingly realize the need for adaptation strategies, but many are unsure where to begin. Attend this course to gain a thorough grounding and practical skills for incorporating adaptation strategies into planning processes. Time in class is provided to practice applying what you’ve learned, and opportunities for local collaboration and next steps are emphasized through discussion, participant activities, and local speakers and examples. The course is designed for planners, public works staff, floodplain managers, hazard mitigation planners, sustainability managers, emergency managers, community groups, members of civic organizations, and coastal resource managers. RSVP to Kaitlyn Dietz at to reserve your spot.

Coastal ProcessesGTM Research Reserve

The coastline is constantly changing- it is dynamic. As humans, we rely on our coastlines for a comfortable climate, seafood, transportation of us, goods, and services, recreation, and our communities. To better protect those resources, it is important to understand the coastal processes of northeast Florida and the Atlantic coastline. Learn more about basic coastal processes and how anthropogenic actions impact the natural coastal processes.

Coastal Resiliency Recommended Resources

"Coastal resilience means building the ability of a community to "bounce back" after hazardous events such as hurricanes, coastal storms, and flooding – rather than simply reacting to impacts," NOAA, 2015. With so many resources available, use this Web Tools Comparison Matrix. This matrix was created to provide the planning and coastal management communities with an expandable chart to compare the functions and methods of publicly available sea level rise and coastal flood web tools.

Living ShorelinesOceanWise Stewardship

Living shorelines use plants or other nature elements such as oyster reefs to stabilize the shorelines of estuarine coasts. Living shorelines can help improve water quality, provide habitat for fisheries, increase biodiversity, and allow for increased recreation.

Living shorelines are more resilient to storms than traditional hard armoring. Hard armoring such as bulkheads or seawalls can prevent the natural marsh migration and could accelerate or create coastal erosion. The marshes and oyster reefs of natural and living shorelines serve as natural barriers to waves, storm surge, and coastal erosion. Approximately 15% of marsh can absorb 50% of an incoming wave energy.

Whether you are a homeowner, coastal engineer, or restoration practitioner, visit the Living Shorelines Academy  to see current projects, resources, and even training modules. Also, be sure to watch "Living Shorelines: A Habitat Friendly Alternative for Shoreline Stabilization" a video made by the North Carolina NERR Coastal Training Program.

Looking for scientific journals and articles on living shorelines? Visit NOAA's Green Infrastructure Effectiveness Database and search for "living shorelines".

Design potential simulation images of a future or proposed living shorelines project with NOAA's CanVis Tool, free and easy to use!

Invasive and Native Plants

An invasive plant is an introduced species of plant that usually comes from another place (state, country, continent, ocean; not all non-native species are considered invasive) and aggressively expands, becoming a problem in its new location by impacting human health, the economy, and/ or the environment. Invasive plants can spread in numerous ways including seeds in nursery plants and soils, misidentification, foreign ships entering ports, fruits and flowers brought home by travelers, or landscaping, boat trailers, propellers, etc. not properly cleaned before or after transportation.

Workshops and Trainings

The GTM Research Reserve’s CTP Coordinator serves as co-chair for the First Coast Invasives Working Group, coordinating on regional invasive species issues. GTM Research Reserve staff can provide workshops on invasive plants and native alternatives for landscaping to interested groups including HOAs, landscape companies, and citizen organizations. Please contact the CTP Coordinator if you would like them to provide a workshop for your group.

Technical Assistance

CTP also provides technical assistance to landowners on the identification and removal of invasive species. If you believe that you have an invasive plant species on your property and would like assistance with proper identification, removal, and control steps, contact the CTP Coordinator to schedule a site assessment.

Low-Impact Development: Volume Reduction

Low-Impact Development is an innovative stormwater management approach with a basic principle that the land will mimic the natural water flow of the watershed. These stormwater management approaches are essential especially in communities where urban development has altered the natural water flow.

Stormwater runs off of rooftops, driveways, lawns, parking lots, and other surfaces into stormwater drains, bringing pollutants, nutrients, and bacteria into coastal waters. By utilizing low-impact development techniques, stormwater runoff can be significantly reduced, which reduces the amount of pollutants within our coastal waters.

The Coastal Training Program offers workshops and training materials for city planners, developers, engineers, and stormwater managers. Additional technical resources include the Watershed EZ Tool and the Runoff Reduction Scenario Tool that are used to quantify the stormwater volume reduction goals of a watershed.

Design potential simulation images with a potential low impact design through NOAA's CanVis Tool, free and easy to use!

If you would like to request a workshop, please contact the CTP Coordinator.

Green Industry Best Management Practices

This program is built upon a partnership between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF-IFAS), the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), and industry professionals.

This is an intensive effort to train all landscaping professionals on best management practices for the application of fertilizers in urban areas. The goal of this program is to improve water quality by addressing this leading cause of non-point source pollution in a pro-active way.

For more information and a list of certified professionals, please  visit this website.

Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services are the results of ecosystem processes that confer benefits on human society. For example, saltmarsh and mangrove habitats protect shoreline structures from storm surge and waves. A myriad of ecosystem processes in and around estuaries work together to provide oysters we can eat. Many of the research projects at the GTM Research Reserve investigate how changes in the local environment impact our ecosystem services. Ecosystem Services associated with the Northeast Florida coastal region:
  • Recreational fishing
  • Commercial fishing
  • Kayaking, canoeing, paddle boards
  • Stormwater protection
  • Shellfish harvesting
  • Clean air
  • Public beaches
  • Hiking
  • Scenic vistas
Read more in the "Literature Review of the Pellicer Watershed Economic Valuation and Assessment Study" by the Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis at Florida State University.

Interested in accessing our water quality, meteorological, and nutrient data?

The System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) tracks short-term variability and long-term changes in estuarine waters and climate to understand how human activities and natural events can change ecosystems. This provides valuable long-term data on water quality and weather at frequent time intervals.

The raw data is housed on the Centralized Data Management Office (CDMO) website and there are many accessible resources to view trends, summaries, and comparisons of that data.

Depending on the level of detail and data manipulation, below are three handouts that explain what SWMP data the GTM Research Reserve collects and how you can access and interpret it.

  • Basic
  • Standard- still under development
  • Advanced - still under development

Learn more about the SWMP at the GTM Research Reserve.

"The average person uses 1.6 straws per day. If 25,000 people skip the straw we could save 5,000,000 straws—and prevent a lot of them from entering the ocean and possibly harming wildlife," Ocean Conservancy.  With over 500 million straws being used in the United States each day, it is important to look into other options (EcoCycle).

Restaurant Patrons

We invite you to join us in requesting and sharing alternative options for straws! Download and print our Restaurant Card (print double-sided) and cut between the images. When you are dining out, be sure to leave one of these cards with your bill. We hope that our local businesses will see the interests and concerns of the community and look into alternative options such as paper or metal straws (maybe even no straws). Forgot to print your cards? When your drink order is taken, ask to "Skip the Straw". If you like your straws, look into reusable straws that you can carry with you.

Restaurant Owners & Managers

  • Only provide straws when a customer requests one. This may be a hard habit to break, but if you have a visual on customer tables, staff could easily remember. You can include a table topper or a line in your menu about why straws are only available upon request. There are many resources of table toppers including the Project Azule Verde, The Last Plastic Straw,, Be Straw Free, and many more!
  • For your customers that would like a straw, provide either compostable or reusable straws. There are many options out there- get creative! Several restaurants have "straw deposits" to ensure they receive their stainless steel straws back at the end of a meal or drink.
  • If you are serving coffee, try using fettuccine noodles as stirrers. We do- it is a great conversation starter!
  • Or simply stop serving straws with beverages... sometimes we open those plastic straws out of habit. The customer may not even notice they are not initially given one.
  • Go even further and eliminate the use of plastic utensils. There are many options of wooden, bamboo, or recycled plastics!
If your restaurant or business serves about 300 drinks per day, you could eliminate about 60 pounds of plastic and save $725 per year by skipping the straws (Project Azule Verde)! Interested in reducing the single-use plastics in your restaurant or business? Visit Project Azule Verde. Project Azul Verde will customize an image, including calculating the figures and adding your business name and logo. You can print it for a table display or coaster, or use it on social media. You can even become a "Plastic Straw Free Business Leader", visit The Last Plastic Straw to learn how!

Learn more about single-use plastics, such as plastic straws, that can break down into microplastics at

Key Projects

Planning For Sea Level Rise In The Matanzas Basin

Planning Matanzas

With the University of Florida’s College of Design, Construction and Planning, the GTM Research Reserve completed a project planning for sea level rise within coastal communities. The project was funded by the National Estuarine Research Reserve Science Collaborative grant and resulted in a 304-page findings document including appendices of the methods, strategies, and GIS data.

Watch the project video. Information and additional findings can be found at

Coastal Wildlife Conservation Initiative


This Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) initiative developed regional working groups to address coastal wildlife conservation issues. It is important to understand the impacts to wildlife that driving on the beach has.

The GTM Research Reserve has developed an online Beach Driving Awareness Course that is being used by local municipalities to train staff in safe beach driving and lessen environmental impacts. Visit CWCI  for information.

FPAN: Heritage Monitoring Scouts

Monitoring Archaeological Resources

Partnering with the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN), Heritage Monitoring Scouts is a public engagement program focused on tracking changes to archaeological sites at risk, particularly those impacted by climate change in the form of erosion and sea level rise.

Help monitor the thousands of  resources within Florida and over 50 within the GTM Research Reserve boundaries. Become a Heritage Monitoring Scout, today!