Maness and team awarded $1.96 million NOAA RESTORE grant

Nov 21, 2023 | Applied and Natural Sciences, Faculty/Staff, General News, Partnerships, Research, Research and Development

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) RESTORE Science Program recently announced $16.8 million of funding to 10 actionable research projects in the Gulf of Mexico, including $1.96 million to a diverse research team that includes Dr. Terri Maness, associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Applied and Natural Sciences.

The mission of NOAA’s RESTORE Science Program is to “carry out research, observation, and monitoring to support the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem, fish stocks, fish habitat, and the recreational, commercial, and charter-fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico.”

The project team will develop science-based guidance on stewardship and outreach techniques for the Gulf of Mexico, which will help resource managers reduce threats from human disturbance to coastal-breeding bird populations. Coastal-breeding bird populations have declined significantly due to anthropogenic and environmental threats such as human disturbance. 

The project team is led by Dr. Nicole Michel of National Audubon and includes researcher partners from several universities including Tulane, University of Illinois, Texas A&M, and Virginia Tech in addition to Louisiana Tech. 

The team will conduct field surveys, bird health assessments, and community-based social marketing campaigns. These will be used to estimate the relationships between stewardship techniques and both bird and human responses, to predict how specific stewardship actions will influence population-level outcomes of interest, such as bird nest success.

“My lab’s part of the project is to conduct the bird health assessments,” Maness said. “Ideally, the stewardship practices and outreach we implement will reduce the number of stressful events the birds experience which should ultimately result in improved health. Exposure to chronic stressors such as human disturbance, particularly in young developing birds, is negatively associated with subsequent survival and reproduction.” The grant award will support graduate and undergraduate student researchers at Louisiana Tech.

The project will be funded for five years, and the results will be translated into an interactive decision support tool to improve financial and logistical resource allocation among the coastal bird monitoring community in the Gulf of Mexico. This will allow managers to simulate and identify optimal stewardship resource allocation options based on variables evaluated in this study.

For more information on the project and the research team visit