World-renowned Wetlands Ecologist Robert Twilley to Deliver Opening Talk at National Conference

Ecological Society of America convenes in New Orleans Aug. 5

LSU Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences Robert TwilleyBATON ROUGE – Robert Twilley, a distinguished professor in the LSU Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences in the LSU College of the Coast & Environment and the executive director of the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, is a leading national expert in coastal deltaic science and sustainability. He has worked on some of the largest ecosystem restoration efforts in the world, including the Mississippi River Delta, Chesapeake Bay, Florida Everglades and mangrove conservation and restoration throughout the neotropics of Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico. Twilley will give the opening plenary talk at the Ecological Society of America, or ESA, annual meeting at the Ernest Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on Sunday, Aug. 5.

He will discuss how natural systems in large dynamic landscapes, such as coastal deltas, are not typically considered important services to society until after a major natural disaster or catastrophe hits. He and colleagues propose a more holistic and longer-term approach to planning called ecosystem design, which would transform flood control approaches of river management to controlled floods that provide the sediment supply necessary for wetland restoration. This shift will help reduce coastal flood risk and meet the multipurpose needs of the diverse services and stakeholders in a large river system and delta network.

“This team of scientists is working to understand how sediments from the Mississippi River Delta are deposited, how floods from storm surges are amplified by land loss, and how humans interact with this constantly changing region,” said Dena Smith, a director of the National Science Foundation’s Coastal SEES, or Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability, program, which funds Twilley and colleagues’ research. “Their work will lead to new coastal plans and policies in this economically important region.”

River management projects, including those designed to promote navigation and reduce flooding, have in some cases accelerated land loss and increased the threat of hurricane flooding. Testing the connections between river management, wetland loss and flood risks will improve coastal system predictions, produce guidelines for how to sustainably manage sediment supply and maintain human settlement in coastal areas.

“Dr. Twilley’s expertise at the intersection of ecosystems, economies and people will help frame this year’s ESA annual meeting’s theme of ‘Extreme events, ecosystem resilience and human well-being’ that will be held in one of the most ecologically dynamic places in the world,” said Ecological Society of America President Richard Pouyat.

Twilley’s plenary talk will be live streamed on Sunday, Aug. 5, at 5 p.m. He will also be presenting his research, The resilience of coastal deltaic floodplains, on Thursday, Aug. 9, at 10:10 a.m.


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Contact Alison Satake
LSU Media Relations


Roy Kron
Louisiana Sea Grant College Program