Science Inventory

Monitoring the Productivity of Coastal Systems Using PH: When Simpler is Better.


Oczkowski, A., C. Oviatt, AND S. Nixon. Monitoring the Productivity of Coastal Systems Using PH: When Simpler is Better. Presented at Science Worth Noticing Symposium, Narragansett, RI, August 22 - 24, 2013.


This presentation will explore the potential utility of pH as an indicator of ecosystem productivity. Our data suggest that pH is a sensitive and potentially integrator of net ecosystem production. It should not be overlooked, that measuring pH is quick, easy, and inexpensive, further increasing its value as an analytical tool.


The impact of nutrient inputs to the eutrophication of coastal ecosystems has been one of the great themes of coastal ecology. There have been countless studies devoted to quantifying how human sources of nutrients, in particular nitrogen (N), effect coastal water bodies. These studies, which often measure in situ concentrations of nutrients, chlorophyll, and dissolved oxygen, are often spatially and/or temporally intensive and expensive. We provide evidence from experimental mesocosms, coupled with data from the water column of a well-mixed estuary, that pH can be a quick, inexpensive, and integrative measure of net ecosystem metabolism. In some cases, this approach is a more sensitive tracer of production than direct measurements of chlorophyll and carbon-14. Taken together, our data suggest that pH is a sensitive, but often overlooked, tool for monitoring estuarine production.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 08/24/2013
Record Last Revised: 10/17/2016
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 260601