2nd UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Nikki Dix
Session Name Poster Session: Hydrologic, Biogeochemical and Ecological Processes 1
Category Hydrologic, biogeochemical and ecological processes
Poster Number 209
Author(s) Nikki Dix,  University of Florida
  Edward Phlips,  University of Florida
  Richard Gleeson, Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve
  Oysters as Indicators of Trophic Status in Highly Flushed Estuaries
  With ever-increasing coastal development, a main focus of estuarine research has become predicting the consequences of nutrient enrichment in coastal ecosystems. In this study, two regions within the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR) in northeast Florida were compared to investigate how well-mixed estuaries with strong tidal influence respond to different nutrient load scenarios. Various water quality sampling regimes were utilized to capture spatial and temporal variability in physiochemical parameters. Since traditionally monitored water quality parameters such as nutrient and phytoplankton concentrations often do not provide a clear indication of trophic status in estuaries with short water residence times, response to nutrient enrichment in this system was measured at the level of benthic primary consumers. Oyster population structure was examined within each region using measurements of oyster density, size, and condition. Results were related to regional and seasonal differences in nutrient concentrations and food availability. Nutrient, chlorophyll a, and particulate organic carbon concentrations were positively related to oyster biomass, abundance, and condition. This study demonstrates that oysters are promising bioindicators of water quality in highly flushed estuaries.