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Noted Coastal Wetland Scientist Speaks at FGCU Lecture Series about Mississippi River, Louisiana Delta and Gulf of Mexico
2/28/2013

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Energy scarcity, climate change and lost wetlands endanger the long-term sustainability of the Mississippi River delta and basin, according to a leading expert in oceanography and coastal science who believes this will have repercussions for Florida Everglades restoration.

John W. Day Jr., professor emeritus of the School of Coast and Environment at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, will discuss ecological engineering solutions in these critical areas during a public lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 7 at the Harvey Kapnick Education and Research Center at the Naples Botanical Garden, 4940 Bayshore Drive.

His presentation is part of the free "Moonlight on the Marsh" lecture series sponsored by Florida Gulf Coast University's Everglades Wetland Research Park in Naples. The series features distinguished scientists from around the world sharing their expertise on renewable energy, nature conservation and other environmental topics of interest to Southwest Floridians.

Day has published extensive research on the ecology and management of coastal and wetland ecosystems. During the 20th century, about a quarter of the wetlands in the Mississippi Delta were eliminated by the creation of levees along the river and other changes to natural water systems, he says. In Louisiana, the equivalent of a football field of coastline is lost every hour, according to a 2011 study by the U.S. Geological Survey. This means lost ecosystem benefits such as hurricane protection, nitrogen retention from agricultural runoff and wildlife habitat.

Climate change further threatens restoration and sustainability of the delta and basin with accelerated sea level rise, more intense hurricanes and projected increases in precipitation that will lead to more large-scale flooding, according to Day.

"In order to be successful, sustainable restoration must work with the natural system and fully utilize the resources of the river," Day said. "This is ecological engineering on a large scale. South Louisiana and South Florida are two of the most unsustainable areas in the U.S., and restoring these areas will be highly challenging."

For more information about the lecture series or the research park, go to www.fgcu.edu/swamp or contact Dr. William J. Mitsch at (614) 946-6715.

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