Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
Home | Intranet | Digital Measures | Help

Environmental Stressors and Priority Plant Communities on Jekyll Island, Georgia


February 2016 - May 2020


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.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 101

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 154

Post Docs: 55

University Staff: 241

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 695

Scientific Publications: 1962

Presentations: 4417



  • Clinton MooreCo-Principal Investigator
  • Elizabeth KingPrincipal Investigator
  • Nathan NibbelinkCo-Principal Investigator

Funding Agencies

  • Jekyll Island Authority


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey