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ORD Research to Improve Ecological Risk Assessment and Management

EMAP Research and Development

One of the goals of ORD's ecological research program is to provide scientific leadership and knowledge for assessing, improving, and restoring the integrity of ecosystems. The program addresses the following fundamental research questions relevant to EMAP: What are the most efficient and effective indicators, monitoring systems, and designs for measuring the exposures of ecosystems to multiple stressors and the resulting responses of ecosystems at local, regional, and national scales?  Additional information is are presented in ORD Strategic Plan, the EMAP Homepage and Strategic Research Plan.

As a result of peer reviews during its initial six years, ORD EMAP has redefined its component structure. Each component has a working group to develop and guide its activities. The Information Management and Working Group components provide infrastructure for EMAP to carry out its mission. The remaining components are parts of a national monitoring network that EMAP is developing.

EMAP National Coastal Assessment:  To answer broad-scale questions on environmental conditions, EMAP and its partners have collected estuarine and coastal data from hundreds of stations along the coasts of the continental United States. EMAP's National Coastal Assessment comprises all the estuarine and coastal sampling done by EMAP beginning in 1990.

Western Pilot:  The purpose for the EMAP Western Pilot is to demonstrate the value of the EMAP approach by applying it to environmental problems across a large and diverse geographical region, and to advance the science of ecosystem monitoring. This will be accomplished by applying EMAP designs to urgent and practical problems facing the western EPA Regional Offices. The program strategy is described in the EMAP-West Research Strategy.

More detailed information on implementation of EMAP-West in the EPA Regions is available on the EMAP-West pages of Region 8, Region 9, and Region 10.  The details of the Western Pilot Design are included as an example of the GRTS design for a target population of streams, rotating panel structure, with sub-populations (States) and special interest areas. A recent EMAP-West Communication document summarizes the development and use of Indices of Biotic Integrity as one of the main tools to measure the condition of the biological components of the Western freshwater aquatic system.

EMAP Information Management:  EMAP's Information Management component develops the information management infrastructure that enables EMAP to achieve its program objectives.

Landscape Ecology Working Group:  The Landscape Ecology Working Group aims to develop landscape assessment approaches to enhance the ability of environmental managers to answer questions on environmental status and trends. Review their product: An Ecological Assessment of the United States Mid-Atlantic Region: A Landscape Atlas.

MRLC Project:  Six Federal Environmental monitoring programs, EMAP (US EPA), GAP (USGS), NAWQA(USGS), C-CAP (NOAA), NALC (US EPA/USGS), and the RSA Center (USFS) have formed a partnership with the EROS Data Center (USGS) to facilitate the development of comprehensive land characteristics information for the United States. This partnership established the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Interagency Consortium (MRLC).

Mid-Atlantic Integrated Assessment:  The Mid-Atlantic Integrated Assessment (MAIA) project incorporates data from state, regional and national environmental monitoring programs into regional assessments.

MAIA ORD:  Research to fill data gaps was conducted by three EMAP MAIA research groups (Landscapes, estuaries, and Surface Waters)

Regional EMAP:  Regional EMAP was initiated to test the applicability of the EMAP approach to answer questions about ecological conditions and regional and local scales.

Ecological Indicator Development:  The Ecological Indicator Development component will develop and understand new indicators that allow the detection and tracking of changes in integrity and sustainability as well as indicators that lead to the causes of impairment.

PRIMENet Index Sites:  In the Park Research and Intensive Monitoring of Ecosystems Network (PRIMENet, formerly known as DISPro) component, the National Park Service and EMAP will co-develop a 10-15 site terrestrial intensive monitoring/research network.

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