We are actively involved in bettering the environment and the communities that depend upon them.
El Lab: Climate Change and Water Laboratory
El Lab will be our research and education laboratory on water and climate change at our offices in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. We rented a house from the beginning of the 20th century in the urban center of Cabo Rojo. Cabo Rojo is a town in the southwest of Puerto Rico with diverse natural resources, agriculture, manufacturing, and is one of the main tourist destinations in Puerto Rico. Check the photos in the gallery of what will be El Lab.
Center for Research and Restoration of Marine Organisms
This research is focused on the aquaculture of Diadema antillarum (long-spined black sea urchins) for coral reef restoration efforts. Diademas grown at the CIROM facilities are released to different coral reefs around Puerto Rico. So far, we have released more than 5,000 Diadema. This project is led by Dr. Stacey M. Williams and is based at the Marine Science Department of the University of Puerto Rico at La Parguera and Ceiba. The Diadema Restoration Project is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, PR- Dept. of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) and U. S. Fish and Wildlife.
We are testing the novel approach of microfragmenting to restore slow-growing massive/encrusting corals. ISER, along with the Department of Marine Science, UPRM and the NOAA Restoration Center, has developed the first land-based coral nursery in Puerto Rico. This project aims to advance natural recovery by re-establishing genetically connected populations with high genotypic diversity that promote successful sexual reproduction and natural recovery of the targeted foundational species. In 2023, we received funds from NFWF to develop a coral nursery at CIROM Ceiba. Stay tuned for developments!
In October 2020, ISER started a new project to larval rear the West Indian sea egg, Tripneustes ventricosus. The final goal is to produce sea urchins to restock coral reefs around Puerto Rico. We spawn adult sea urchins and rear their larvae in the laboratory to produce settlers, which will grow into juveniles. So far, we have produced more than 100 juvenile Tripneustes. We are working closely with NOAA, PR DNER and the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez and we are working with the State of Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources. This project is being funded by NOAA’s CRCP NGO Partnership Corporative Agreements.
Forest Trails Maintenance and Watershed Workshops
Funded by the PR-Dept. of Natural and Environmental Resources (2021-2022). In this project ISER Caribe is implementing a trail management and rehabilitation project at the Bosque Comunitario de Rio Hondo, Mayagüez. This is a municipal public forest in a peri-urban barrio in Mayagüez. In summer we will be organizing a series of community workshops on forest and trail management and watershed ecology and environmental quality.
Samaná Virtual Archive
This is a collaborative digitization project led by Dr. Ryan Mann-Hamilton and made possible by a generous award from the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM) given to CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library, Mother Bethel Evangelical Church (formerly AME), St. Peter's Evangelical Church, and ISER to recover, preserve, organize, digitize and make available rare and delicate archival documents. The collection contains birth, marriage, and baptismal records from Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal and St. Peter's Evangelical Churches in Samaná, Dominican Republic, ranging from 1909-1970. To view the documents, please click here.
This project was financially supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in their continuous efforts to protect seagrass, a critical habitat for commercially important marine species and federally protected marine fauna. Various areas in the coastal and tidal region of the Playa de Ponce were identified and modified with native coastal plant species. In total, over 1,000 individual trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants were transplanted.
Water Quality Monitoring
This water quality monitoring initiative at the Playa de Ponce is done in collaboration with Desarrollo Integral del Sur (DISUR) and La Playa Reverdece community group. The objective of this project is to test the Playa waters for E. coli and Enterococcus, which are two bacteria that are used as biological indicators of water contamination. The equipment used is obtained from a loan program funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. This project is ongoing and it is paired with our green infrastructure and coastal restoration projects.
Green infrastructures are rare in Puerto Rico and in our attempt to bring innovative projects to the Playa de Ponce, we are developing, in conjunction with the School of Architecture of the Universidad Católica de Ponce, five rain gardens in communities at the Playa that suffer from flooding problems and non-point source water contamination.
Fisheries Ecosystem Plan
ISER Caribe was subcontracted by the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, in collaboration with Lenfest, to coordinate workshops in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to build conceptual and quantitative models based on stakeholder perceptions and existing data to describe the structure and dynamics of U.S. Caribbean ecosystems within a fisheries context. We are in the process of collecting all environmental, biological, and socio-economic data for the analyses.
Weather Prognosis & Vulnerability
Collaborative interdisciplinary assessment of weather and the changing climate's impact on weather in Puerto Rico as part of a CUNY Collaborative Grant led by Dr. Nathan Hosannah and Dr. Ryan Mann-Hamilton. Weather forecasting is an indispensable utility that facilitates efficient crop irrigation, transportation, and preparation for extreme events. Accurate forecasts are particularly important to communities in the tropics. As part of the project we produced a short film titled "From a Presentiment to the Radar: Imprecise Forecasts—Climate, Weather and Agriculture in Puerto Rico".
Diadema Response Network
ISER is collaborating with AGRRA and other partners in the Caribbean to respond to the recent mass mortalities of Diadema in the region. Along with partners, we are providing workshops, and developing protocols for rescuing, restoring and sampling Diadema.
Disaster Recovery Project
In this project we are working with the Asociación de Residentes del Sector Cerrote. This association is the entity that administers and operates a small non-PRASA community aqueduct in northern Yauco. ISER Caribe is serving as project manager and community liaison to COR3 and FEMA.
Environment Community Humanities Oasis (ECHO) brings students and their broader communities together to organize environmental justice actions rooted in transdisciplinary research on and around sensitive, waterfront environments adjacent to LaGuardia’s Queens campus. Grounded in the understanding that racial and environmental justice are inextricable, ECHO will also address uneven social and geographic effects of the climate crisis across the Americas through a series of conversations, collaborative events, classroom activities, and hands-on projects that scale to include both local and international concerns. Learn more here.
Women's Aquaculture Training
Gulf State Marine Fisheries Commision collaborating with University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez (contracting ISER Caribe) and Florida International University will give a set of workshops to train women in Puerto Rico the practical solutions and techniques of aquaculture starting in Summer 2022.