EPA Science Inventory

Classification for Estuarine Ecosystems: A Review and Comparison of Selected Classification Schemes

Citation:

KURTZ, J. C. AND J. D. HAGY. Classification for Estuarine Ecosystems: A Review and Comparison of Selected Classification Schemes. Chapter 2, Estuaries: Classification, Ecology, and Human Impacts. Nova Science Publishers, Inc, Hauppauge, NY, , 15-40, (2012).

Description:

Estuarine scientists have devoted considerable effort to classifying coastal, estuarine and marine environments and their watersheds, for a variety of purposes. These classifications group systems with similarities – most often in physical and hydrodynamic properties – in order to explain how estuaries respond to stressors. We evaluated four selected classification schemes for their effectiveness in (1) relating nitrate + nitrite concentrations to nitrogen load estimates, and (2) relating chlorophyll a concentrations to nitrogen loads and concentrations. Strong within-class similarities would be useful for developing numeric nutrient criteria and reference conditions in estuaries. Classifications were analyzed using a nationwide water quality data set. Of the classifications tested, the geographically focused Ecoregion classification seemed to provide the most robust grouping of estuaries on the basis of similarity of responses. Regionally-based classifications may account for factors such as land use, population density, and geographic attributes that within-estuary physical and hydrological variables do not represent. We offer recommendations for selecting and improving classification approaches, both for researchers developing classification tools, and for resource managers who use them. Our ability to manage estuarine environments will ultimately benefit from a classification scheme that provides standard terminology for various types of estuaries, guidelines for organizing data, facilitation of mapping and modeling efforts, and support for decisions.

Purpose/Objective:

To compare systems that have been developed for classifying estuaries into common types to assist with developing water quality criteria, standards and management practices.

URLs/Downloads:

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Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (BOOK CHAPTER)
Start Date: 05/11/2012
Completion Date: 05/11/2012
Record Last Revised: 02/05/2013
Record Created: 11/04/2011
Record Released: 11/04/2011
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 239307

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB

GULF ECOLOGY DIVISION

ECOSYSTEM DYNAMICS AND EFFECTS BRANCH