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NGI Research Direction and Structure - Impacts on Ecosystems Provide Focus for Research

January 10, 2011

The NGI Council of Fellows recently endorsed a long-term research direction and structure. Research is organized around three overlapping project clusters of "Observe," "Understand," and "Apply." The cluster teams will address the fundamental hypothesis: Natural and anthropogenic perturbations significantly impact the Northern Gulf of Mexico ecosystem structure, function, and processes. The three-cluster approach provides an overall framework to organize NGI's research for Years 6-10 as well as current and future Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill research.

Two NGI Fellows serve as leads on each cluster team. Each team includes representation from each NGI institution as well as one member from the other teams. This approach fosters both cross-cluster coordination and inter-institution collaboration. The broad purposes for the research clusters are to conduct regional observations of northern Gulf ecosystems; synthesize the observations to improve holistic understanding of ecosystem impacts; and develop applications and sampling protocols that support an ecosystem approach to management. Regional management needs provide an overall focus for all three areas. This approach provides a unified program direction that addresses various aspects of the above hypothesis and helps guide the selection of research projects.