Recent and Ongoing Projects

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Marine Debris

Tracking, Reporting and Innovative Methods in Identifying Litter in the Galveston Bay Watershed

Houston Advanced Research Center

Feb 2020 – June 2021

Black Cat  worked with the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) to develop methodology for a comparison between plastic litter survey techniques in the Galveston Bay watershed. Funded by the Garver Black Hilyard Family Foundation, the project is a collaboration between Black Cat, HARC, and Keep Texas Beautiful. Through field trials, we have refined a rapid assessment technique to gather data on plastic beverage containers/ bottles that can be easily performed by the public. We have also sampled at over 60 sites in the Galveston Bay Watershed and collected detailed information on quantity and composition of marine debris.

Data and techniques from this project were used to design the Texas Litter Database, an online portal for statewide survey information.

EPA GOM Trash Free Waters – Trash and Plastics on the Upper Texas Coast

American Bird Conservancy

SPLASh (Stopping Plastics and Litter Along Shorelines)

Aug 2020 – Present

Black Cat  is subcontracted to the American Bird Conservancy's SPLASh program. Black Cat serves as a project liaison between SPLASh and other local and state marine debris programs. We are working with SPLASh and local partners to expand and enhance the Partners in Litter Prevention website and resources. Black Cat is producing multiple online StoryMaps for use on the SPLASh website, assists with field work and volunteer events, conducts training on methods for volunteers, and completes other duties as needed.


 

 

The Galveston Bay Watershed Trash Action Plan
Dec 2016 – Present

Black Cat GIS partnered with HARC and the Galveston Bay Estuary Program in late 2016 to begin working on a partner-driven Action Plan to address marine debris in the Galveston Bay area. Check out our current progress at donttrashagoodthing.org .

Vision: The Houston-Galveston Litter and Marine Debris Prevention Stakeholders envision a region free from trash and plastic pollution that impacts our bayous, lakes and rivers that lead to Galveston Bay.

Mission: To investigate and prevent the adverse impacts of litter and plastic pollution on our natural resources, wildlife, economy, public health and our quality of life.

Wildlife

Texas Eastern Willet Connectivity Project

Gulf Coast Bird Observatory

June 2019- June 2022

BC worked with GCBO to estimate the effects of sea level rise (SLR) and increased flooding events on known Willet (Tringa semipalmata) nesting locations contained in designated study areas (USFWS refuge property along Highway 457 in Matagorda County). 
 

Studying Migrant and Resident Populations of Loggerhead Shrike to Inform Conservation

Gulf Coast Bird Observatory

January 2021- October 2023

BC will work with GCBO and USFWS staff to create habitat analyses of home ranges for banded shrikes. We will be utilizing existing orthoimagery and LiDAR to gather information on habitat characteristics like: general habitat types, height of vegetation, elevation of land, ratios of open/ shrub habitat, distances to urban or developed land, usage and availability of habitat corridors.
BC will perform geostatistical analyses to determine those habitat characteristics which are most important and differentiate habitat characteristics between migrant and resident shrikes.
 

An Analysis of Intertidal Reef as a Resource for American Oystercatcher and Other Coastal Dependent Birds

Gulf Coast Bird Observatory

March 2019 - January 2021

Black Cat contracted to the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory to estimate the effects of sea level rise on three upper coast intertidal reef locations. The Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) was used to examine shoreline and area changes over time and to predict future reef habitat given current rates of change.
All three study reef locations are predicted to experience loss of habitat over the SLAMM analysis time period spanning from 2020 to 2100. Considering that the typically destructive effects of storms and flooding are not included in this SLAMM analysis, this estimate could be considered a “best case scenario.” Unless major restoration and conservation measures are undertaken, foraging habitat for shorebirds in the Confederate Reef and Rattlesnake Point locations will be essentially gone in the next 80 years.

Mapping of Intertidal Oyster Reef in West Galveston Bay 

Dec 2017 – January 2021

Black Cat partnered with the University of Houston and the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory on a exciting project to assess intertidal oyster reef habitat in West Galveston Bay. Funded by the Galveston Bay Estuary Program's Monitoring and Research Subcommittee. Black Cat provided maps of potential reef generated from orthophotos in a GIS analysis. GCBO and UH conducted field work to groundtruth potential reef and to collect data on assemblages of bird species and invertebrate communities on reefs.

Piping plover usage, habitat changes, and public influence of a newly acquired beach on Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
Sep 2018 – May 2020

The purpose of this project is to determine the presence, usage, and response to human disturbance of the federally listed threatened piping plover’s (Charadruis melodus) on the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge’s newly acquired beach property. This study will provide baseline data that refuge staff will use to guide management actions, specifically concerning the future raising of Highway 87 and creation of additional beach access points. The project will utilize existing protocol used by other researchers on the Texas coast for site comparisons and to better inform management actions on the Refuge as public use increases. End products will include a summary, recommendations, outreach material, and plover data will be incorporated into ongoing studies by Texas researchers. Expected results will be combined with current data being collected coast-wide and will aid in a standardized analysis to better inform management of this federally threatened species.

 

Coastal erosion of nesting bird habitats

Ongoing

 

Coastal erosion threatens habitat for a variety of species.  Black Cat has been working on analyses in Texas to determine habitat loss over time, establish baselines to track future loss and to highlight critical areas most in need of restoration.