The Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms

A National Research Agenda


For many years, the United States has struggled to manage fisheries resources and marine ecosystems impacted by an expanding array of toxic and harmful algae. Our understanding of the fundamental ecological, toxicological, and oceano graphic issues underlying these phenomena, however, is woefully inadequate. In recognition of this shortcoming, the Na tional Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) co-sponsored a work shop on the Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms at the Snow Mountain Ranch Conference Center, CO from 23-28 August 1994. This research agenda is the result of those deliberations. The forty workshop participants (Appendix A) included academic and government scientists as well as program managers and officials representing the NSF, NOAA Coastal Ocean Program, Sea Grant, and the National Marine Fisheries Service. The scientists attending the workshop were selected from among nationally recognized leaders in fields spanning both the biological and physical sciences. The diverse composi tion of the group (Appendix A) reflects the interdisciplinary nature of this subject as well as the need to solicit recommenda tions from the oceanographic community at large.

Position papers were prepared and distributed prior to the workshop so all participants would be familiar with the issues and questions associated with HABs. Selected participants were asked to present summaries of issues reflecting their area of expertise and geographical focus. Specific theme topics fell under the general categories of: Physiology, Biochemistry and Genetics; Food-web/Community Interactions; Nutrients and Eutrophication in the Coastal Environment ; Physical/Biological Interactions; and, Emerging Technologies. Following these presentations and extensive plenary discussions, participants were divided into working groups and charged with identifying research priorities, approaches and essential technologies in three theme areas: The Organisms, Environmental Regulation of Blooms , and Food-Web/Community Interactions. Alternating be tween working group sessions and plenary discussions, research issues and priorities were refined for each of these program elements .

This national research agenda is being widely circulated to individual scientists, agency personnel, government officials and science administrators. Feedback is welcome at all stages and on all aspects of this planning process.

Acknowledgements. The workshop was sponsored by the Division of Ocean Sciences of the National Science Foundation, and by the Coastal Ocean Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Maine and Texas Sea Grant Programs provided support for several participants, and the Southeast Fisheries Science Center of the National Marine Fish eries Service in Charleston SC provided staff support to help facilitate travel. Special thanks to Debbie Braddock and Ethel Le Fave for administrative support, to C. R. Tomas, T.J. Smayda, and P.J.S. Franks for serving as working group chairs, and to P. Donaghy, G. J. Doucette, D.L. Garrison, R. A. Horner, J.J. Cullen, and F.G. Plumley for their efforts as the Editorial Committee for this report.

­ Donald M. Anderson, Workshop Chair