2002 Progress Report: A Preliminary Survey of Macroalgal and Aquatic Plant Distribution in the Mobile Tensaw Delta

EPA Grant Number: R827072C008
Subproject: this is subproject number 008 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R827072
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Alabama Center For Estuarine Studies (ACES)
Center Director: Shipp, Robert L.
Title: A Preliminary Survey of Macroalgal and Aquatic Plant Distribution in the Mobile Tensaw Delta
Investigators: Major, Kelly
Institution: University of South Alabama
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: June 1, 2002 through December 31, 2003
Project Period Covered by this Report: June 1, 2002 through December 31, 2003
RFA: Alabama Center For Estuarine Studies (ACES) (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Understanding Human Modifications of Coastal Waters , Targeted Research


The objectives of this research project are to: (1) obtain data regarding macroalgal and aquatic plant species richness, abundance, and distribution in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta; (2) examine temporal and spatial variations in physicochemical parameters and land use characteristics of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, as they relate to macroalgal and aquatic plant distribution; and (3) identify potentially useful bioindicators.

Emphasis will be placed on algal/plant taxonomy and collection of chemical and environmental data. Effects of salinity, nutrient concentration, temperature, and irradiance are of primary interest regarding algal and aquatic plant distribution patterns, as they are the dominant abiotic factors in the Mobile Delta ecosystem.

Progress Summary:

As money was awarded after the algal/plant-growing season in October 2002, our efforts have focused on the acquisition of preexisting aerial photographs of the Delta, and field equipment needed for the upcoming spring sampling season. Student interviews also are underway to fill the undergraduate research assistant position available through this grant. Two reconnaissance trips have been made along the river system to identify suitable sites for the establishment of permanent sampling transects for the 2003 algal/plant-growing season.

Future Activities:

Future activities for this research project include collection and identfication of algae and aquatic plants, measurement of physicochemical parameters, and statistical analyses.

Collection and Identification of Algae and Aquatic Plants. Using topographic maps and a global positioning system (GPS), a reconnaissance survey will be conducted to identify and categorize land use adjacent to and downstream of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. Land use categories, and information regarding plant distribution and prevailing physical/chemical trends around Gravine Island from Drs. Anne Boettcher and Tim Sherman, then will be used to stratify sampling sites along the river system. A monthly sampling regime will be implemented to collect data from a total of 15 sites (5 sites will be centrally located within the Delta), representing the complexity of this aquatic ecosystem, along a gradient from the confluence of the Mobile and Tensaw Rivers to Mobile Bay. Sampling transects (10 x 20 m), running parallel to the shore, will be set up within each site. Macroalgal/plant abundance and distribution will be assessed at 5 m intervals, both along the shore and perpendicularly outward to a depth of 2 m, using a 0.5 m x 0.5 m quadrat subdivided into 100 cells. The number of cells covered by each species will be counted and converted to percent cover. Collections will be made for identification and creation of vouchers. Specimens will be maintained in water-filled Ziploc bags (algae and higher plants) or scintillation vials (bryophytes) and placed on ice for later identification and mounting.

Measurement of Physicochemical Parameters. In situ measurements of ambient water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity, surface irradiance, and light attenuation levels will be made per site visitation. Separate water samples will be collected in triplicate at each site and during each sampling period for later determination of water column total suspended solids (TSS), and chlorophyll and nutrient (NO3-, NO2-, NH4+, and PO43-) concentrations. To minimize degradation effects, chlorophyll and ammonium samples will be analyzed immediately upon returning to the laboratory on each sampling date. Nitrate/nitrite samples will be frozen and analyzed as time allows. Water samples collected for pigment analysis will be filtered, solvent extracted (90 percent acetone) in dim light, and quantified spectrophotometrically using the equations of Jeffrey and Humphrey (1975). Nitrate, nitrite, and ammonium concentrations will be determined using the standard colorimetric techniques, designed for the chemical analysis of seawater, as outlined in Parsons, et al. (1984). Orthophosphate levels will be estimated using the colorimetric ascorbic acid method (Greenberg, et al., 1992).

Statistical Analyses

Descriptive Statistics. A series of descriptive statistics will be applied to preliminary field data (e.g., species distribution and abundance) and ecological characterizations (e.g., species richness and abundance indices). Identification and placement of algal and aquatic plant assemblages into a hierarchical classification will be performed using a two-way indicator species analysis (TWINSPAN) and a canonical correspondence analysis (CCA), using the statistical package PcOrd (ter Braak, 1986; Jongman, et al., 1987). TWINSPAN is a divisive numerical classification technique developed specifically for hierarchical classification of community data (Gauch, 1982). An analysis of variance (ANOVA) will be used to determine if species assemblages differ, along a gradient, from the Delta to the Mobile Bay.

Community Comparisons. Multivariate analyses will be used to explore plant assemblage structure and the relationship between assemblage structure and environmental characteristics. Principal components analysis (PCA) will be used to define subsets of water-quality and habitat variables to determine if variables measured at all sites accurately reflect environmental gradients from north to south. Spatial and temporal variations in plant communities will be evaluated using detrended correspondence analysis (DCA), which employs an improved eigenvector ordination technique and is based on reciprocal averaging. DCA corrects two main flaws of the reciprocal averaging technique: (1) arch distortion, and (2) violation of orthogonality criteria (Gauch, 1982). Reciprocal averaging, or correspondence analysis, is a multivariate technique that maximizes the correlation between species scores and sample scores along an assumed gradient (Hill and Gauch, 1980).

Predictive Models. Using Arcview®, a data layer will be developed to include all biological and environmental data. This information will be used, in combination with additional spatial data layers, to develop a geographic information system (GIS) predictive model that will identify additional locations for algal and aquatic plant assemblages based on geology, soils, and river conditions.

Additional data will be analyzed using a PC (Dell Dimension 8100; Pentium 4) and SYSTAT (Version 9.0) statistical software. The p-value will be set at the level of less than or equal to 0.05 for all analyses.

Schedule of Work (Year 1). Additional activities for spring 2003 are to: (1) select site and assess sampling methods; (2) initiate assessment of algal/plant distribution, collection, and identification; and (3) initiate physicochemical characterization of sites. Additional activities for summer, fall, and winter 2003 are to: continue algal/plant distribution, collection, and identification; and continue physicochemical characterization.

Schedule of Work (Year 2). For spring 2004 our activities will include finishing the sampling for Year 1. Additional activities for summer 2004 are to complete all chemical and specimen identifications, and compile and analyze data for year 1 survey. Activities for fall 2004 are to submit final synthesis to ACES, and present results at professional meetings.


Gauch Jr. HG. Multivariate analysis and community structure. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1982.

Greenberg AE, Clesceri LS, Eaton AD. Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association, 1992.

Hill MO, Gauch HG. Vegetagio 1980;42:47-58.

Jeffrey SW, Humphrey GF. Biochemie und Physiologie der Pflanzen 1975;167:191-194.

Jongman RHG, Braak ter CJF, Tongeren. Data analysis in community and landscape ecology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1987.

Parsons TR, Maita Y, Lalli CM. A manual of chemical and biological methods for seawater analysis. Pergamon Press, New York, NY, 1984.

Braak ter CJF. Ecology 1986;67:1167-1179.

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

Other subproject views: All 1 publications 1 publications in selected types All 1 journal articles
Other center views: All 86 publications 5 publications in selected types All 5 journal articles
Type Citation Sub Project Document Sources
Journal Article Major KM. Diversity in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. The Mobile Register. R827072C001 (2002)
R827072C008 (2002)
not available

Supplemental Keywords:

land use, estuarine, ecological effects, stressors, population, indicators, aquatic habitat, ecology, plant biology, modeling, surveys, south central., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Water, ECOSYSTEMS, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Chemical Engineering, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, Ecology, Environmental Chemistry, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, State, Restoration, Aquatic Ecosystem, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Aquatic Ecosystems, algal blooms, Terrestrial Ecosystems, Ecology and Ecosystems, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, Ecological Indicators, estuarine research, water use, coastal ecosystem, watersheds, bloom dynamics, coastal resources, estuaries, Alabama (AL), coastal environments, nutrient kinetics, aquatic plants, bioindicator development, ecosystem, water quality, algal bloom detection, human modifications, fishery sampling

Relevant Websites:

http://www.southalabama.edu/aces/ Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R827072    Alabama Center For Estuarine Studies (ACES)

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R827072C001 Fluorescent Whitening Agents As Facile Pollution Markers In Shellfishing Waters
    R827072C002 Red Snapper Demographics on Artificial Reefs: The Effect of Nearest-Neighbor Dynamics
    R827072C003 Stabilization of Eroding Shorelines in Estuarine Wave Eliminates with Constructed Fringe Wetlands Incorporating Offshore Breakwaters
    R827072C004 Interaction Between Water Column Structure and Reproduction in Jellyfish Populations Of Mobile Bay (SGER)
    R827072C005 Effects of Variation in River Discharge and Wind-Driven Resuspension on Higher Trophic Levels in the Mobile Bay Ecosystem
    R827072C006 Results of Zooplankton Component
    R827072C007 Benthic Study Component
    R827072C008 A Preliminary Survey of Macroalgal and Aquatic Plant Distribution in the Mobile Tensaw Delta
    R827072C009 Fisheries-induced changes in the structure and function of shallow water "nursery habitats": an experimental assessment
    R827072C010 Effects Of Variation in River Discharge and Wind-Driven Resuspension on Lower Trophic Levels of the Mobile Bay Ecosystem
    R827072C011 Evaluation of Alabama Estuaries as Developmental Habitat for Juvenile Sea Turtles
    R827072C012 Effects of Salinity Stress on Natural and Anthropogenically-Derived Bacteria in Estuarine Environments
    R827072C013 The Role of Land-Use/Land-Cover and Sub-estuarine Ecosystem Nitrogen Cycling in the Regulation of Nitrogen Delivery to a River Dominated Estuary; Mobile Bay, Alabama
    R827072C014 Environmental Attitudes of Alabama Coastal Residents: Public Opinion Polls and Environmental Policy
    R827072C015 Synthesis and Characterization of an Electrochemical Peptide Nucleic Acid Probe
    R827072C016 Determinants of Small-Scale Variation in the Abundance of the Blue Crab Callinectes Sapidus
    R827072C017 Effects of Estrogen Pollution on the Reproductive Fitness of the Gulf Pipefish, Syngnathus scovelli
    R827072C019 A Model for Genetic Diversity Aquatic Insects of the Mobile/Tensaw River Delta
    R827072C020 Evaluating Trophic Processes as Indicators of Anthropogenic Eutrophication in Coastal Ecosystems: An Exploratory Analysis
    R827072C021 Effects of Anthropogenic Eutrophication on the Magnitude and Trophic Fate of Microphytobenthic Production in Estuaries
    R827072C022 Characteristics of Ship Waves and Wind Waves in Mobile Bay
    R827072C023 Methods Comparison Between Stripping Voltammetry and Plasma Emission Spectroscopy for Metals in Mobile Bay
    R827072C024 Changes in Water Conditions and Sedimentation Rates Associated With Construction of the Mobile Bay Causeway
    R827072C025 Cold-Induced Hibernation of Marine Vibrios in the Gulf of Mexico: A Study of Cell-Cell Communication and Dormancy in Vibrio vulnificus
    R827072C026 Holocene Sedimentary History of Weeks Bay, AL: Human and Natural Impacts on Deposition in a Gulf Coast Estuary
    R827072C027 Shelter Bottlenecks and Self-Regulation in Blue Crab Populations: Assessing the Roles of Nursery Habitats and Juvenile Interactions for Shelter Dependent Organisms
    R827072C028 Predicting Seagrass Survival in Nutrient Enriched Waters: Toward a New View of an Existing Paradigm
    R827072C029 DMSP and its Role as an Antioxidant in the Salt Marsh Macrophyte Spartina alterniflora
    R827072C030 A Preliminary Survey of Aerial and Ground-Dwelling Insects of the Mobile/Tensaw Delta
    R827072C031 Natural Biogeochemical Tags of Striped Mullet, Mugil cephalus, Estuarine Nursery Areas in the North Central Gulf of Mexico
    R827072C032 Resolution of Sedimentation Rates in Impacted Coastal Environments Using 137Cs and 210Pb Markers: Dog River and Fowl River Embayments
    R827072C033 Investigation of the Use of Pulse Amplitude Modulated (PAM) Fluorometry as an Indicator of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Health in Mobile Bay
    R827072C034 Influence of Invasive Plant Species in Determining Diversity of Aquatic Vegetation in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta
    R827072C035 The Influence of Shallow Water Hydrodynamics on the Importance of Seagrass Detritus in Estuarine Food Webs
    R827072C036 Food Web Interactions, Spatial Subsidies and the Flow of Energy Between the Mobile Bay Delta and Offshore Waters: A SGER Proposal to the Alabama Center for Estuarine Studies
    R830651C001 Meteorological Modeling of Hurricanes and Coastal Interactions: A Stability Study For Vertical Pressure Levels
    R830651C002 Characterization of Glycoprotein Cues Used by the Parasitic Rhizocephalan Barnacle Loxothylacus texanus To Identify Its Blue Crab Host, Callinectes sapidus
    R830651C003 Survey of Diamondback Terrapin Populations in Alabama Estuaries
    R830651C004 An Assessment of Environmental Contaminant Levels in Water and Dragonfly Larvae Tissues from the Mobile/Tensaw Delta