2003 Progress Report: Development of an Optical Indicator of Habitat Suitability for Submersed Aquatic Vegetation

EPA Grant Number: R828684C002
Subproject: this is subproject number 002 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R828684
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: EAGLES - Atlantic Slope Consortium
Center Director: Brooks, Robert P.
Title: Development of an Optical Indicator of Habitat Suitability for Submersed Aquatic Vegetation
Investigators: Gallegos, Charles L. , Sparks, Darrick
Current Investigators: Wardrop, Denice Heller , Hershner, Carl , Thornton, Kent , Havens, Kirk
Institution: Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Current Institution: Pennsylvania State University - Main Campus , FTN Associates Ltd. , Virginia Institute of Marine Science
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: March 1, 2001 through February 28, 2005 (Extended to February 28, 2006)
Project Period Covered by this Report: March 1, 2002 through February 28, 2003
RFA: Environmental Indicators in the Estuarine Environment Research Program (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Water , Ecosystems


The objective of this research project is to develop a regionally extensive diagnostic indicator of habitat suitability for submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), based on optical properties. For this purpose, field studies will be conducted to understand the regional variation in optical properties of suspended particulate material in the Chesapeake Bay region. This is one of four subprojects under the Atlantic Slope Consortium (ASC) Center. It is closely related to subproject R828684C001, Integrated Assessment of Estuarine Ecosystems.

Progress Summary:

During 2003, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) optical indicator team collected 159 samples for optical water quality measurements from 29 stations in 24 estuarine segments. Optical absorption and scattering measurements and water quality analyses were completed on all of the samples. An optically based indicator of habitat suitability for SAV was derived and applied to mesohaline subestuaries of Chesapeake Bay (Maryland and Virginia) with differing land uses and in North River, North Carolina. The indicator utilizes concentrations of optically active water quality parameters to determine whether sufficient light penetrates the water column for growth of SAV. Differences in indicator values between vegetated and nonvegetated sites were found to be attributable to both differences in water quality concentrations and to site-specific differences in mass-specific optical properties of the suspended particulate matter. Sites classified as developed watersheds consistently exhibit lower indicator scores, whereas forested and agricultural watersheds show only minor differences.

Collaborative studies were concluded with investigators in the Atlantic Coast Environmental Indicators Consortium (ACE-INC) Estuarine and Great Lakes (EaGLes) in Morehead City, North Carolina. Personnel there collected 152 water samples from 9 sites in North River around beds of the seagrass Zostera marina for the purpose of generalizing the optical indicator being developed in the Atlantic slope region. Another 54 samples were collected from 9 stations in Pamlico Sound. Samples were analyzed for the same standard water quality measures and optical properties measured at the SERC. A total of 206 samples have been analyzed to date. Preliminary analyses indicate that absorption and scattering per unit mass of suspended solids at these more energetic sites are lower than at the more protected sites being studied at the ASC. The seagrass bed at the North River site is being used as a reference site in the development of the optically based indicator.

Future Activities:

We will conclude the collection of water samples in November 2003. Some water quality analyses remain to be completed. Emphasis in 2004 will be on submitting a paper on the proposed indicator for SAV habitat suitability (Gallegos, submitted, 2004). Sample collection by ACE-INC collaborators was also concluded. In support of the indicator development, ACE-INC personnel will determine the depth limits of the Zostera bed at Middle Marsh to test and refine predictions of the optical indicator.

Journal Articles on this Report : 1 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other subproject views: All 5 publications 3 publications in selected types All 2 journal articles
Other center views: All 158 publications 43 publications in selected types All 36 journal articles
Type Citation Sub Project Document Sources
Journal Article Gallegos CL, Jordan TE, Hines AH, Weller DE. Temporal variability of optical properties in a shallow, eutrophic estuary: seasonal and interannual variability. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 2005;64(2-3):156-170. R828684 (Final)
R828684C002 (2003)
  • Full-text: Science Direct - Full Text HTML
  • Abstract: Science Direct - Abstract
  • Other: Science Direct - Full Text PDF
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    integrated assessment, aquatic ecosystem, wetland, stream, estuary, biological integrity, landscape ecology, scaling, health effects, ecological effect, risk assessment, socioeconomic, decisionmaking, remote sensing, Mid-Atlantic, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program, EMAP, aquatic biota, aquatic ecosystem, indicators, bioindicator, biomonitoring, coastal ecosystem, contaminated sediment, degradation, ecological assessment, ecological exposure, ecosystem assessment, ecosystem indicators, ecosystem stress, environmental stress, estuarine ecosystems, integrated assessment, integrative indicators, land use, nutrient stress, remote sensing,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Geographic Area, Water, ECOSYSTEMS, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Hydrology, Nutrients, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Terrestrial Ecosystems, Ecological Monitoring, Mid-Atlantic, Ecological Risk Assessment, Biology, Atmosphere, Ecological Indicators, Risk Assessment, environmental monitoring, remote sensing, coastal ecosystem, aquatic ecosystem, bioindicator, degradation, ecological exposure, ecosystem assessment, watersheds, aquatic biota , optical indicators, socioeconomics, aquatic habitat, biomonitoring, ecological assessment, estuarine ecosystems, integrated assessment, nutrient stress, ecosystem indicators, Atlantic Slope Consortium, submerged aquatic vegetation, aquatic ecosystems, environmental stress, integrative indicators, bioindicators, Chesapeake Bay trophic network, ecosystem stress, Chesapeake Bay

    Relevant Websites:

    http://www.asc.psu.edu Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2001
  • 2002 Progress Report
  • 2004 Progress Report
  • Final Report

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R828684    EAGLES - Atlantic Slope Consortium

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R828684C001 Integrated Assessment of Estuarine Ecosystems
    R828684C002 Development of an Optical Indicator of Habitat Suitability for Submersed Aquatic Vegetation
    R828684C003 Integrated Assessment of Watersheds
    R828684C004 Socioeconomic and Institutional Research