Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Georgia
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Georgia Project

Environmental Stressors and Priority Plant Communities on Jekyll Island, Georgia

February 2016 - May 2020


Participating Agencies

  • Jekyll Island Authority

Jekyll Island is a Georgia barrier island that supports developed tourism amenities and a residential community, but is also a state park that is committed to conserving and managing most of the island's area as natural habitat. Natural areas on Jekyll Island are facing a multitude of environmental stresses, most of whose root causes are anthropogenic. Sea level rise, climate change, altered surface and groundwater hydrology, fire suppression, invasive species, land development, and altered wildlife abundances can all affect the dynamics of vegetation communities. Many of Jekyll Island’s vegetation communities are locally or globally rare, unique to barrier islands, and highly regarded for their aesthetic and recreational values, all of which create a strong impetus for conserving the integrity of these vegetation communities and ecosystems. However, formulating natural areas management strategies is a complex challenge because of the simultaneous multiple stressors that are impacting plant communities, and the diverse range of ecological and social objectives – from biodiversity conservation and climate resilience, to tourism amenities and educational opportunities – that the Jekyll Island Authority’s mission seeks to balance. To surmount these complexities, this project combines three suites of scientific studies to (1) investigate the effects of multiple stressors on vegetation structure and dynamics in three high-priority plant communities, (2) integrate field and existing data on expected management outcomes into a decision support framework, and (3) evaluate stakeholder attitudes toward management options. This approach will deliver relevant, novel ecological information on the consequences of ecological stressors on high-priority natural areas, contextualized in terms of management options, in order to facilitate the Jekyll Island Authority in conservation planning. The findings delivered from the social research component will allow JIA managers to evaluate the potential tradeoffs, synergies, and leverage points between ecological conservation strategies and the values held by diverse stakeholders.

Presentations Presentation Date
King, E. G., C. T. Moore, D. L. Dunn, N. P. Nibbelink, and H. R. Morris. 2019. Positioning scientists as relevant and respectful partners in forest restoration. Oral presentation at World Congress on Ecological Restoration, 24-28 September 2019, Cape Town, South Africa. 2019-09-24
Dunn, D. L., C. T. Moore, E. G. King, N. P. Nibbelink, and H. R. Morris. 2019. Developing a decision-support tool for management alternatives to restore and conserve maritime live oak forests. Oral presentation at Coastal & Estuarine Research Foundation Conference, 3-7 November 2019, Mobile, AL, USA. 2019-11-03