Chowan’s Dr. Dame Recognized in Audubon Magazine’s 2019 Fall Edition
On October 10, 2019, Chowan University’s Dr. James “Bo” Dame, coastal ecologist and professor in biology, was mentioned in the Audubon Magazine’s fall 2019 edition. According to the National Audubon Society, their mission is to “conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.” Audubon spans nationwide with twenty- three state programs, forty-one nature centers and nearly 500 local chapters.
In the Audubon article entitled “The Fight to Save Pine Island”, author Purbita Saha describes Pine Island’s battle with climate change and rising sea levels as well as Dr. Dame’s role in researching wildlife and wetland preservation. Pine Island lies between the Atlantic Ocean and an estuary separating the northern Outer Banks from the mainland known as Currituck Sound. Erosion and flooding have contributed to the area’s deterioration. Sponge-like marshes do protect the barrier island from being obliterated by natural disasters, most recently, Hurricane Dorian. However, natural and man made defenses, such as seawalls, will soon become useless in preventing climate change’s total takeover. Instead of relying solely on prevention methods, researchers have come together to assist the marshes in adapting while there is still time.
While seawalls and bulkheads do their part in protecting the area, the wetlands themselves act as the less expensive and more viable protection against climate change. In the article, Dr. Dame explains that, “as sea levels rise, marshes can, too, by trapping sediment and plant matter and building up root material.” According to Saha, “this accumulation can create higher ground that shelters low-lying inland zones from surging waters.” Dr. Dame, as well as other scientists, are conducting revolutionary research that may not only save the marshes, but the entire ecosystem. Through their success, they hope to convince property owners to preserve and restore wetlands in other Outer Banks areas.
In their effort to assist scientific research, Audubon North Carolina will utilize multiple tools and methods including: satellite imagery, soil and vegetation studies, sea-level-rising models, identifying food- prone problem areas, and locating the salvageable habitats. Additionally, Audubon North Carolina plans to construct a lab and pavillion dedicated to scientific research as well as citizen interaction and involvement.
Please join Chowan University in congratulating Dr. Dame on his recognition in the fall 2019 issue of Audubon Magazine and his continued research to help marshlands adapt to rising sea levels.