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The Virginia Coast Reserve (VCR) is an extremely dynamic, heterogeneous coastal barrier landscape comprising mainland watersheds, tidal marshes, lagoons, and barrier islands. Our goal for the VCR LTER program is to develop a predictive understanding of the response of coastal barrier systems to long-term environmental changes in climate, sea level and land

use, and to relate these to the ecological services the coastal barrier systems provide. We focus on how slow progressive environmental changes interact with short-term disturbances such as storms and species invasions to control the dynamics and biotic structure in the coastal barrier landscape. Coastal barrier systems like the VCR are prominent features of shorelines on most continents and are important globally. Our work thus extends beyond the VCR; our understanding can both be applied broadly to coastal barrier systems and be compared to other types of land-margin ecosystems.

The VCR barrier island/lagoon system extends 110 km along the Atlantic shore of the Delmarva Peninsula. Sandy and dynamic barrier islands are backed by salt marshes and shallow lagoons and separated from one another by deep inlets.

Updates

Island Change Highlighted

A story on VCU’s web page features many photos of VCR/LTER researchers led by Julie Zinnert on Hog Island. You can read the full story and see the many photos at: ¬†https://vcu.exposure.co/island-time

Conceptual Framework

Below is a figure outlining the conceptual framework for the Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research Project. Description of past conceptual frameworks, including themes and key findings.

Conceptual framework of VCR VI, highlighting major themes of (1) Mechanisms of state change, (2) Ecosystem connectivity, and (3) Interacting drivers, scales and feedbacks. State change results in ecosystem consequences that feed back, in part through social interactions, to influence drivers of change.

About

The Virginia Coast Long-Term Ecological Research (VCR/LTER) project’s research activities focus on the mosaic of transitions and steady-state systems that comprise the barrier-island/lagoon/mainland landscape of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Primary study sites are located on Hog Island, Parramore Island and mainland marshes near Nassawadox VA.

The VCR/LTER has its field facilities at the Anheuser-Busch Coastal Research Center in Oyster, VA at: 6364 Cliffs Road, Cape Charles, VA 23310 or PO Box 55, Cheriton, VA 23316 (US Mail). The administrative headquarters of the VCR/LTER is at the University of Virginia Department of Environmental Sciences, 291 McCormick Road, P.O. Box 400123, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4123.

The VCR/LTER is administered through the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia. Researchers from many other institutions participate in research. These include Boston University, East Carolina University, Old Dominion University, Utah State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Nature Conservancy. The VCR/LTER is supported by National Science Foundation grants BSR-8702333-06, DEB-9211772, DEB-9411974, DEB-0080381, DEB-0621014 and DEB-1237733 and is part of the U.S. Long-term Ecological Research Network.

Contact Us

The VCR/LTER has its field facilities at the: Anheuser-Busch Coastal Research Center 6364 Cliff Road, Cape Charles, VA 23310 or PO Box 55, Cheriton, VA 23316 (US Mail). Phone: 757-331-1246 & 434-632-6186 The administrative headquarters of the VCR/LTER is at: VCR/LTER Department of Environmental Sciences University of Virginia 291 McCormick Road P.O. Box 400123 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4123 Phone (Karen McGlathery, lead PI): 434-924-0558 Phone (John Porter, Info. Manager): 434-924-8999