Bloom and Doom: Understanding Social-Ecological Risks of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) is a grant project looking into HABs and their effects. HABs result in toxic water events that can poses risks to people and ecosystems by threatening water quality. HABs are and will continue to increase in frequency and severity as nutrient runoff and global warming continue. Despite this, HABs are not monitored federally, and despite examples of success in other states, Georgia has not yet taken enough steps to understand, monitor, and respond to HAB events. This project investigates why HABs occur in some inland bodies of water over others; what social and ecological actors are present and how they interact with the water body; who may be disproportionately exposed to HABs; and how stakeholders are identifying solutions and managing their risks. This is accomplished using a variety of methods. Pictures highlight field-based surveys conducted with water body users for 10 non-consecutive weekends from May through August 2022.

This project is being conducted in the Athens, Georgia area from 2022-2023 with support from a 2022 Presidential Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Award, “Bloom and Doom: Is Increasing Risk of Harmful Algal Blooms an Inevitable Consequence of Global Change? Assessing Risk and Exploring Strategies in Georgia from Biological and Social Perspectives.” Research team members include IDM’s Dr. Michelle Ritchie (College of Public Health); Dr. Cory Struthers (School of Public and International Affairs); Dr. Peter Hazelton (Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources); and Drs. Alex Strauss and Krista Capps (Odum School of Ecology). The research team also includes more than a dozen undergraduate and graduate students.


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One thing that the University of Georgia’s Institute for Disaster Management (IDM) stresses is giving students the opportunity to learn by doing. For two weeks this past May and June,


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