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Building a Scientific Foundation for Sound Environmental Decisions

The National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) is one of five research organizations that comprise EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD). NCER's Science to Achieve Results or STAR program funds research grants and graduate fellowships in numerous environmental science and engineering disciplines through a competitive solicitation process and independent peer review. In addition, through this same competitive process, NCER periodically establishes large research centers in specific areas of national concern.

In 2000, the US EPA granted authority to establish up to five Estuarine Indicator Research Programs. These Programs were designed to identify, evaluate, recommend and potentially develop a suite of new, integrative indicators of ecological condition, integrity, and/or sustainability that can be incorporated into long-term monitoring programs and which will complement ORD's intramural coastal monitoring program. The proposed research of the Estuarine and Great Lakes (EAGLES) Programs covers a large coastal area of the United States.

SCOPE OF RESEARCH

The EAGLES programs will attempt to:

  1. Develop indicators and/or procedures useful for evaluating the ‘health' or condition of important coastal natural resources (e.g., lakes, streams, coral reefs, coastal wetlands, inland wetlands, rivers, estuaries) at multiple scales, ranging from individual communities to coastal drainage areas to entire biogeographical regions.
  2. Develop indicators, indices, and/or procedures useful for evaluating the integrated condition of multiple resource/ecosystem types within a defined watershed, drainage basin, or larger biogeographical region of the U.S.
  3. Develop landscape measures that characterize landscape attributes and that concomitantly serve as quantitative indicators of a range of environmental endpoints, including water quality, watershed quality, freshwater/estuarine/marine biological condition, and habitat suitability.
  4. Develop nested suites of indicators that can both quantify the health or condition of a resource or system and identify its primary stressors at local to regional scales.

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