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 2018: "The Art of Science in Our Community"

GuanaLakeAerial Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 9:00 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.

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. Projects can be shared through oral presentations as well as poster presentations.

This year, State of the Reserve will have three main components; a morning plenary and panel discussion; a series of scientific presentations in the afternoon, and an evening poster reception. The theme of the event is “The Art of Science in Our Community”, which is intended to explore the ways in which we make decisions as individuals and communities while the science to inform those decisions continues to be investigated. The panel will provide an opportunity to discuss this quandary as it applies to the coastal changes Northeast Florida has experienced in recent years, including impacts from Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.


9:00 a.m.- 9:45 a.m. Morning Plenary Session focusing on coastal dynamics.

  • Dr. Jeremy Stalker Associate Professor, Marine Science and Research Institute, Jacksonville University
9:45 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Morning Panel Session with panels expertise in coastal dynamics, community response, resiliency, planning and engineering, and more! Moderators of each panel session, Mike Buresh (Action News Jax) and Lauren Rautenkranz (First Coast News), will start the session off with questions and will allow a period for attendees to ask questions.
  • Jeffrey Alexander Deputy Director, St. Johns County Emergency Management
  • Jessica Beach Public Works Engineer, City of St. Augustine
  • Ryan Carter Carter Environmental Services
  • Dr. William Dally Associate Professor, Civil Engineering, University of North Florida 
  • Doug Davis Fletcher Davis Realty
  • Dr. Courtney Hackney Professor Emeritus, University of North Florida
  • Dr. Todd Osborne Assistant Professor, Whitney Laboratory for Marine Biosciences, University of Florida
  • Dr. Don Resio Professor and Director, Taylor Engineering Research Institute, University of North Florida
  • Tim Telfer Public Lands and Natural Resources Manager, Flagler County
  • John Regan City Manager, City of St. Augustine
  • Dr. Nikki Dix Research Coordinator, GTM Research Reserve
  • Scott Eastman Stewardship Coordinator, GTM Research Reserve
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Science Technical Symposium: GTM staff and visiting scientists will present the data and research they have conducted within the Reserve.
  • Utilizing long-term data sets to evaluate local storm impacts to the GTMNERR estuary” Shannon Dunnigan, SWMP Manager, Pam Marcum, Biologist, Dr. Nikki Dix, Research Coordinator, and Silas Tanner, SWMP Technician
  • A Tale of Two Hurricanes: Heritage Monitoring Scouts (HMS Florida) Efforts at the GTM Research Reserve” Emily Jane Murray, Public Archaeology Coordinator, Florida Public Archaeology Network
  • Mangrove and Climate Change: Leveraging history to understand the present and to predict the future” Dr. Ilka C. Feller, Senior Scientist, Mangrove Ecologist, Smithsonian Institution
  • Mangrove expansion in the GTM NERR: how does saltmarsh wrack affect mangrove propagule establishment and development?” Rachel Smith, PhD Candidate, University of Georgia
  • Mapping Land Use Characteristics and Water Quality Impacts to Support Policy and Decision Making” Tricia Kyzar, Data Analyst and PhD Candidate, University of Florida
  • Oyster gardening in northeast Florida: A community-based program that engages citizen scientists, advances our understanding of oyster ecology, and restores oyster habitatsJosé Núñez, Research Scientist, Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, University of Florida
  • An Investigation of Water Quality Associated with the Summerhaven River Dredging and Restoration Project” Dr. Matthew Brown, Associate Professor, Department of Natural Sciences, Flagler College
  • Spreading the Seeds of Estuary Health” Kenneth Rainer, MS, GTM Research Reserve
  • Sharks of the GTM NERR: results from 8 years of shark abundance surveys conducted in the Tolomato River” Dr. Jim Gelsleichter, Director, UNF Coastal and Marine Biology Flagship Program
  • How Oystermen and Fishermen Use and Think About Oysters in the St. Augustine Region of Florida” Carrie Schuman, PhD Candidate, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Florida
4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Poster Session and Reception: Enjoy an evening reception with refreshments, while additional researchers present their work at a poster session. Feel free to mingle and network as we watch the sunset over the Guana estuary!
  • An Investigation of Gopher Tortoise Burrow Characteristic Preferences at the GTMNERR” Cody Burns, Mallory Hopkins et al., Flagler College
  • Do Hardened Structures on Vilano Beach Affect Erosion Rates on Adjacent Properties?” Colin Herbert, Trinity Hopkins et al., Flagler College
  • Dune Blowout Morphology: A Time Series” Tristen Utic, Mac Byram, Madison Hess et al., Flagler College
  • Geotechnical Aspects of Re-Engineered Estuarine Shorelines in Response to High Energy Waves” Sofia Roman et al., University of Florida
  • Hurricane Irma Effects on Water Quality” Tracey Schafer et al., University of Florida- Whitney Laboratory for Marine Biosciences
  • Interactive effects of wood traits and intertidal exposure on shipworm infestation in southeastern US estuaries” Ada Bersoza et al., University of Florida
  • Oyster Shell Recycling in Northeast Florida” James D. Tomazinis et al., Northeast Florida Aquatic Preserves, GTM Research Reserve
  • Protecting shorelines with constructed oyster reefs: evidence in the sediment Colin Herbert, Mallory Hopkins et al., Flagler College
  • Results of the GTM Butterfly Monitoring Project” Michael G. Pogue et al., GTM Research Reserve
  • Spartina alterniflora floating nurseries: growing plants to reduce pond nutrient loading and enhance coastal shoreline restoration” Ben Mowbray et al., University of North Florida
View photos from the symposium or the scientific symposium presentations below!

Past State of the Reserve Symposiums

  • 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"

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.

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!

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!