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National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Gulf Ecosystem Initiative

The Gulf of Mexico is a place where land, sea, people, and atmosphere are tightly coupled - where human impacts and climate change have a profound impact.


Gulf Ecosystem Initiative Logo


The Gulf Ecosystem Initiative is a $3.5 million partnership between the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in Santa Barbara, CA and the NOAA RESTORE Science Program to fund synthesis science and postdoctoral research. Working groups of scientists and decision makers will collaborate to solve pressing questions across the Gulf of Mexico. Synthesis science proposals and working groups will cover three main areas of research for decision making in the Gulf of Mexico: fisheries, climate change, and the ecological impacts of management. 

Climate Change: The Gulf of Mexico is extremely vulnerable to climate change, especially sea level rise. Yet, despite decades of study in the region, we still lack fundamental understanding of feedback loops. How do human actions like oil and gas production change freshwater systems? How do coastal developments impact species migration? Working groups in the climate change focus will use climate data sets, models, and more to investigate questions like these that will better inform societal response. 

Fisheries:  Gulf of Mexico fisheries contribute millions of dollars to the economy each year, supplying 40% of our domestic seafood. There is a wealth of long-term data sets on these important fisheries and their environments, but for proper management we need to better understand the links between fish ecosystems and their functioning. Working groups in this fisheries focus will leverage existing partnerships, forge new connections, and tailor products for specific stakeholders. 

Ecological impact of management actions: There have been numerous targeted actions in the Gulf of Mexico to address natural resource management, but how effective are they? This third focus area covers the ecological impact of past or current management actions at any scale in the Gulf of Mexico. By synthesizing available data, groups will gain a deeper understanding of the outcomes of management decisions, which can inform future or ongoing action. 

A boat sails in the gulf of mexico near Mangrove forests


2024 Call for Proposals

  • 2023 Funded Proposals

    Read more about the inaugural projects and postdoctoral scholars awarded through the Gulf Ecosystem Initiative, covering the impacts of severe weather and offshore wind development on fisheries.