2004 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.
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, 2003 through February 28, 2004
RFA: Environmental Indicators in the Estuarine Environment Research Program (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Water , Ecosystems


This is the second of four subprojects under the Atlantic Slope Consortium (ASC) center. It is closely related to subproject R828684C001, Integrated Assessment of Estuarine 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 are being conducted to understand the regional variation in optical properties of suspended particulate material in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Progress Summary:

Activities during Year 4 of the project focused on analysis of data collected and refinement of the optical indicator developed during the prior 2 years. 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 non-vegetated sites were found to be attributable both to 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 exhibited lower indicator scores, whereas forested and agricultural watersheds showed only minor differences. Because of the inferential design of the study, there are no clear ways to determine the mechanisms by which development alters the optical properties of the particulate matter.

Collection of water samples concluded in November 2003. All quality analyses have been completed. Sample collection by Atlantic Coast Environmental Indicators Consortium (ACE-INC) collaborators also has concluded. In support of the indicator development, ACE-INC personnel determined the depth limits of the Zostera bed at Middle Marsh to be 1.7 m, close to the limit predicted by the optical indicator.

Future Activities:

We will prepare the final report and any additional manuscripts.

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, Biber PD. Diagnostic tool help set water quality targets for restoring submerged aquatic vegetation in Chesapeake Bay. Ecological Restoration 2004;22(4):1441-1451 R828684C002 (2004)
R828677C004 (2004)
not available

Supplemental Keywords:

ecological indicator, optical indicator, submerged aquatic vegetation, SAV, Chesapeake Bay, mesohaline, Atlantic Slope Consortium, aquatic biota, aquatic ecosystem, aquatic ecosystems, aquatic habitat, bioindicator, biomonitoring, coastal ecosystem, degradation, ecological assessment, ecological exposure, ecosystem assessment, ecosystem indicators, ecosystem stress, environmental stress, estuarine ecosystems, integrated assessment, integrative indicators, land use, nutrient stress, optical indicators,, 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:


Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2001
  • 2002 Progress Report
  • 2003 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