Using Spatial Variability in the Rate of Change of Chlorophyll a to Improve Water Quality Management in a Subtropical Oligotrophic Estuary
Millette, N. C., Kelble, C. K., Linhoss, A., Ashby, S., & Visser, L. (2019). Using Spatial Variability in the Rate of Change of Chlorophyll a to Improve Water Quality Management in a Subtropical Oligotrophic Estuary. Estuaries and Coasts. 42, 1792-1803. DOI:10.1007/s12237-019-00610-5.
Abstract Anthropogenic eutrophication threatens numerous aquatic ecosystems across the globe. Proactive management that prevents a system from becoming eutrophied is more effective and cheaper than restoring a eutrophic system, but detecting early warning signs and problematic nutrient sources in a relatively healthy system can be difficult. The goal of this study was to investigate if rates of change in chlorophyll a and nutrient concentrations at individual stations can be used to identify specific areas that need to be targeted for management. Biscayne Bay is a coastal embayment in southeast Florida with primarily adequate water quality that has experienced rapid human population growth over the last century. Water quality data collected at 48 stations throughout Biscayne Bay over a 20-year period (1995–2014) were examined to identify any water quality trends associated with eutrophication. Chlorophyll a and phosphate concentrations have increased throughout Biscayne Bay, which is a primary indicator of eutrophication. Moreover, chlorophyll a concentrations throughout the northern area, where circulation is restricted, and in nearshore areas of central Biscayne Bay are increasing at a higher rate compared to the rest of the Bay. This suggests increases in chlorophyll a are due to local nutrient sources from the watershed. These areas are also where recent seagrass die-offs have occurred, suggesting an urgent need for management intervention. This is in contrast with the state of Florida listing of Biscayne Bay as a medium priority impaired body of water.