Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Ecology Research Guide

Welcome to the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives' Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Ecology Research Guide. This is a select list of resources (most freely-available) for students, teachers, and researchers to learn about environmental information for the Chesapeake Bay area. Although it contains some general references, this guide focuses on technical resources. Please feel free to Contact Us with suggestions for additional resources or with questions.

    Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) Links

    • Chesapeake Bay Parasite Project:  This project studies how the parasitic and invasive barnacle, Loxothylacus panopaei affects the native, white-fingered mud crabs (Rhithropanopeus harrissi) population.
    • Marine Invasions Research Lab: With laborabories and staff both at SERC and on the San Francisco Bay (TiburonLab) SERC's Marine Invasions Lab conducts long-term, intensive research, spanning the Pacific and Atlantic shorelines of the Americas from polar to tropical latitudes. 
    • Global Change Research Wetland (GCREW)Located in a tributary to the Chesapeake Bay, data has been collected in this 70-hectare brackish marsh for decades and is used to predict what the future holds for coastal wetland ecosystems as they cope with accelerated sea-level rise.
    • Chesapeake Bay Barcode Initiative: A major genetic barcoding effort to develop a genetic barcode library of the fish and macroscopic invertebrate species of Chesapeake Bay.
    • Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Education Year-round educational offerings on SERC's 2,600-acre campus include programs for a K-12 audience as well as for organized groups and teacher professional development.

    Top Chesapeake Bay Resources

    Data Resources

    Organizations and Agencies

    Government and research

    • Long Term Ecological Research Network: Established by the National Science Foundation, LTER provides scientific expertise, research platforms, and long- term datasets necessary to document and analyze environmental change and is the largest and longest-lived ecological network in the United States.
      • Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES): One of 26 research programs established by the National Science Foundation as part of the Long Term Ecological Research Network.
    • Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research ReserveThe Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is one of 28 protected areas that make up the National Estuarine Research Reserve System established to promote informed management of the Nation's estuaries and coastal habitats.
    • Chesapeake Biological Laboratory: Part of the University of Maryland system,  the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory is the oldest publicly supported marine laboratory on the East Coast.
    • NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office: The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office works to protect and restore the Bay by focusing its capabilities on four key topics: Education, Fisheries, Habitat, and Observations.
    • USFWS Chesapeake Bay Field Office: Chesapeake Bay Field Office biologists work to protect endangered and threatened species, migratory birds, freshwater and anadromous fish, and wildlife habitats in the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
      • Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation: The Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation is a private, not-for-profit, and non-partisan Federation with a focus on estuarine and coastal issues focused on research, as well and eductation of—and communication between—scientists, decision-makers and the public.  There are seven regionally based Affiliate Societies which encompass all of the coastal regions that border the United States, Canada and Mexico. 

      Tributary-related resources

      For Educators



      • Bay Journal: The Bay Journal is published by Bay Journal Media, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, to inform the public about issues and events that affect the Chesapeake Bay.
      • Chesapeake Quarterly: Maryland Sea Grant's print magazine, Chesapeake Quarterly, explores scientific, environmental, and cultural issues relevant to the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.
      • Maryland Marine Notes: Predecessor to the Chesapeake Quarterly: produced from 1982 to 2001.

      Invasive Species

      An "invasive species" is defined as a species that is non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health (legal defination per Executive Order 13112).

      There is a lack of resources that focus on invasive species specific to the Chesapeake Bay.  The below resources all contain information about marine and aquatic invasives, and can be culled for information about species that are also found in the bay.

      • SERC's Marine Invasions Research Lab: With laborabories and staff both at SERC and on the San Francisco Bay (TiburonLab) SERC's Marine Invasions Lab conducts long-term, intensive research,spanning thePacific and Atlantic shorelines of the Americas from polar to tropical latitudes.
      • National Ballast Information Clearinghouse: Many aquatic invasives are introduced to new ecosystems via ships used for international shipping, in particular though the practice of purging ballast water before taking on cargo.  SERC runs the Clearinghouse, tracking the release of ballast water, in partnership with the United States Coast Guard.
      • Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants (University of Florida): The UF / IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants is a multidisciplinary research, teaching and extension unit directed to develop environmentally sound techniques for the management of aquatic and natural area weed species.
      • University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants: Aquatic Plant Information Retrieval System: more than 90,000 annotated citations to peer-reviewed and gray literature and reports, with aquatic, wetland and natural area invasive plants as the focus
      • Harmful Algae: Site maintained by the U.S. National Office for Harmful Algal Blooms with funding from the NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research, with the goal of serving as a comprehensive resource for information about harmful algal blooms.
      • National Invasive Species Information Center: The National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC) was established in 2005 at USDA's National Agricultural Library (NAL) to meet the information needs of users including the National Invasive Species Council. Executive Order 13112 established the Council in 1999.
      • National Invasive Species Council: The overarching duty of the Council is to provide the high-level vision and leadership necessary to sustain and expand Federal efforts to safeguard interests of the United States by preventing, eradicating, and controlling invasive species, as well as restoring ecosystems and other assets impacted by invasive species.

      Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV)

      SAV is plants that grow underwater except—in some cases—for brief exposure to the air at low tides. SAV provides important habitat for small fish and shellfish, and provide ecological services such as absorbing wave energy and oxygen production.

      Other Species Information

        Libraries, Reference, and Archives

        • National Sea Grant LibrarySea Grant is a program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is a national network of 33 colleges and universities involved in scientific research, education, training, and extension projects geared toward the conservation and practical use of the coasts, Great Lakes, and other marine areas.  The National Sea Grant Library's catalog contains many references related to the Chesapeake Bay.
        • National Wetlands Research Center (NWRC) Library: A source and clearinghouse of science information about wetlands in the United States and the world
        • NOAA Central Library: While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  Central Library in Silve Spring Maryland is focused on serving NOAA employees and contractors, they also provide collection access to to scholars and researchers who are not officially affiliated with NOAA.  Searching their Catalog with the term 'Chesapeake Bay' will net online resources as well as citation information for materials on their shelves.
        • University of Delaware. Marine Studies Library: The Marine Studies Library, located in Lewes, Delaware, provides a specialized collection of books and reference materials on marine biology and biochemistry; chemical, physical and biological oceanography; marine geology; and aquaculture.  The collections are open to the public to use on-site, but it's a good idea to contact their staff before coming.
        • Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences Hargis Library: The Hargis Library provides a rich array of electronic and print collections in the biological, ecological, oceanographic and physical sciences.
        • Library of Congress collection: The Capital and the Bay: This Library of Congress collection of publications is part of a series of local history collections presented by the National Digital Library Program

        Last Updated April 2, 2021