Research Priorities

The sanctuary serves as a hub of education and applied research. Audubon works with diverse partners to study and address the challenges facing this important landscape. Resilience solutions developed at Pine Island are exported to Audubon’s network in North Carolina and throughout the Atlantic Flyway, helping communities, managers, and researchers better understand and adapt to coastal change.

Audubon’s research priorities at Pine Island involve four main components:

Priority Bird Adaptation 

  • Study population and migration trends, as well as habitat needs of priority bird species at Pine Island and in Currituck Sound

Marsh and Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Restoration

  • Lead long termlong-term habitat monitoring (e.g. installation of surface elevation tables)
  • Identify areas of marsh that are degrading, expanding, and keeping pace with sea level rise
  • Explore and address drivers of marsh loss
  • Develop best practices for freshwater marsh restoration, migration, and prescribed burning

Sea Level Rise (SLR), Saltwater Intrusion (SWI), and Storm Impacts

  • Study impacts of press disturbances (long-term disturbances with long-term impacts on ecology, such as SLR and SWI) and pulse disturbances (abrupt changes to ecology, such as storms) on marsh and other natural systems in Currituck Sound

Nature-Based Solutions for Resilience

  • Evaluate and quantifying ecosystem services provided by natural systems
  • Facilitate development and adoption of natural infrastructure solutions in local and state land use, mitigation, and resilience planning

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