NEW ORLEANS (AP) — University of New Orleans researchers are getting federal money to study shrimp and crab populations over the 120 miles of coast between Lake Borgne in Louisiana to Mobile Bay in Alabama.

On Thursday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced funding the $1.2 million five-year study of blue crabs, brown shrimp and white shrimp.

Researchers will track the abundance and distribution of the shellfish with the aim of understanding fluctuations in their populations and to see how they recover from disasters.

Martin O'Connell, a UNO professor leading the study, says his college has extensive experience looking at shellfish populations in the Pontchartrain estuary and how they reacted to changes caused by Hurricane Katrina, the influx of freshwater from the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway and the BP oil spill.