GCE Research Registration

GCE-Sponsored Research (GCE-funded or leveraged activities)

GCE-LTER affiliates conducting research funded by or leveraging the GCE NSF grant should use the GCE-sponsored Project Registration forms available here to submit project requests. This allows us to keep track of GCE-related research activities. We also use this process as a clearinghouse to help to ensure that each GCE project has the proper permissions in place, as required.

» Fill out a new research request application (GCE login required)

» View or update an existing application (GCE login required)

» Review next steps and obtain permission to access study site (GCE login required)

» View approved research applications

UGAMI, SINERR or GA DNR-Sponsored Research (non-GCE-funded research)

For all other research, please use the SINERR research request form to submit your request and indicate the appropriate sponsoring organization (SINERR, UGAMI or GA DNR).

» Register and fill out a SINERR research request and indicate the relevant sponsor

Also please note that access to Sapelo Island is controlled, and you will have to make additional arrangements with your research sponsor for transportation to and from the island and for housing. Information about the logistics of conducting research at UGAMI is available here.


Project permission is a multi-step process that involves: site access map

  1. GCE research registration – This is required for GCE projects, regardless of project duration or additional permission requirements. It allows us to track projects, minimize potential conflicts, and suggest modifications to projects that may be problematic in some way.

  2. CRD Research Application and Request for a Revocable License - If you are working in the intertidal or subtidal area it is highly likely that your project will be reviewed by the GA DNR Coastal Resources Division (CRD). If CRD review is required, you will be asked to forward the completed GCE research registration along with both a CRD Research Application and a Request for a Revocable License to CRD (link here).

  3. Site Access– Multiple entities manage or control different parts of the GCE domain, and you will need to contact the appropriate State (e.g. SINERR, GA DNR) or Federal (e.g. FWS) agencies, and in some cases The Nature Conservancy for permission to access the site (see map and contact information, template for site access request). CRD also requires evidence that you have permission for site access before they will issue a Revocable License.

  4. Landowner Notification – With very few exceptions, the marshes of GA are owned by the State up to the high tide line. Official permission from the adjacent landowner is therefore not usually necessary unless you are actually going to be on someone’s property. However, it is generally a good idea to notify the landowner about the project, especially if someone is likely to see you from their yard.

  5. Other considerations – Depending on the nature of your project you may need further review by other agencies (e.g. Army Corps of Engineers). Specimen collection, working with vertebrates, and other activities may also require additional permissions or certification.

  6. Once your project is in progress, we will need the following:
    1. Finalized GPS points of the study site (the LTER techs can help you with this)
    2. Place a sign at the research location. If it’s a short-term project the LTER techs can provide an adhesive vinyl label that you can fill out with a permanent marker and place at the research location. You can also generate labels from this web site, print them onto waterproof paper, and laminate in the UGAMI office - these will last for less than one year. For a longer-term project, consult with the techs about a more permanent sign or plan to replace short-term signs periodically.

  7. When the project ends:
    1. Notify us so that we can close out your registration form
    2. Finally, we need research sites to be fully cleaned up once the work is finished. This is important!

Tips for project planning

  1. Get started early! Depending on the complexity of a project, permissions can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year. Get started as early as you can when you are planning a project so that you have an understanding of what types of permission you may need. Note that it is not necessary to know the exact location at the outset (see more on this below), but you do need to have a general area selected.

  2. Keep site access in mind when selecting study sites. As described above, multiple entities manage or control different parts of the GCE domain (see map below). When selecting your research sites be aware that getting permission to access sites within SINERR is generally the most straightforward as the area is designated for research. Dr. Rachel Guy, the SINERR Research Coordinator, will automatically see your initial GCE research registration request if it includes sites within the Reserve, whereas you are responsible for contacting other relevant entities for site permission.

  3. Minimize the project footprint. As a general rule, we seek to minimize any long-term impacts associated with research. It is also good practice to avoid creating a long and visible impact or trail out to or around the research site. In particular, research that creates long-lasting disturbances (e.g. site is visibly disturbed >1 year after experiment is removed) affects large areas (e.g. >100 m x 100 m) or introduces non-native genetic stock (i.e. species that either do not occur in the area, or do occur but are non-native) is of concern, and may require some negotiation and review before approval. Note that a project > 0.1 ha requires a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

  4. Avoid existing research. There are multiple ongoing research efforts in the GCE domain that you want to make sure to avoid. This includes the footprint of the flux tower; the areas that are regularly flown by drones for the disturbance project; the disturbance manipulation, etc. Non-GCE researchers working with SINERR also have experiments set up. We coordinate with SINERR and do our best to identify potential conflicts when your request comes through, and you may be asked to shift your location. If you are not sure it is always a good idea to ask.

  5. Be prepared for CRD review. Once the project is registered with GCE, the project description is posted publicly on the GCE website and CRD receives automatic notification. Projects in the marsh need to comply with the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act, and those on the beach need to comply with the Shoreline Protection Act. Subtidal projects may require a bottom lease. CRD review is required for everything from marking plots to sampling plants/soil to installing equipment (e.g. pore water wells; temperature sensors). We will advise you on how to forward the information to CRD (and CRD may reach out to you directly). In most cases CRD will provide permission within 1-2 months. However, if the project involves substantial infrastructure (e.g. building a permanent boardwalk) it may need to go through the Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee or to another agency for evaluation, which is something that can take much longer (> 1 yr).

    If you need to consult with Georgia DNR CRD before completing the project registration process, our primary point of contact is:

    Meghan Angelina
    Department of Natural Resources
    One Conservation Way
    Brunswick, Georgia 31520
    phone: 912-264-7218
    email: meghan.angelina@dnr.ga.gov


Other Considerations

Navigable waters: If you are in deploying equipment in navigable waterways, this requires review by the Army Corps of Engineers (and the Coast Guard if you are attaching something to their navigation marker).

Threatened and endangered species: If your project has the potential to affect a threatened, endangered, or species of concern (e.g. manatees; sea turtles), that requires review by ACE (and potentially NMFS).

Specimen collection – any collection of living organisms done in the state of Georgia requires a Scientific or Educational Collection Permit. Consult with Natalie Schrey at UGAMI about whether the UGAMI permit can cover your research, or if you need a separate permit. For information about interstate transport permits, visit www.aphis.usda.gov. Please contact Rachel Guy, SINERR Research Coordinator, for specific guidance on obtaining permission to sample sensitive plant and animal species or for information related to special requests such as bird banding assistance.

Vertebrates – if you are working with fish or other vertebrates, you will need IACUC approval from your home university. Contact Tom Hancock at UGAMI for more information.

Human subjects – if you are working with human subjects, you will need IRB approval from your home university.

Drone flights – Drone flights require a licensed drone operator and must be in compliance with FAA regulations.



This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants OCE-9982133, OCE-0620959, OCE-1237140 and OCE-1832178. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.