Improved estimation of phytoplankton abundance and fine-scale water quality features via simultaneous discrete and semi-continuous surveys

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Authors

Jemma Stachelek , Christopher Madden, Stephen P Kelly, Michelle Blaha

Abstract

The abundance and distribution of phytoplankton is driven by light and nutrient availability which in turn is controlled by larger-scale regional processes such as climatic variability and global teleconnections. However, such estimates are largely built on evidence gathered from coarse (on the order of kilometers), discrete grab sampling networks where the overall set of measured parameters is limited and whose spatial representativeness is unknown. As a result, abundance estimates can be subject to a high degree of uncertainty and the ability to resolve fine-scale (on the order of meters) water quality features relevant to ecosystem management can be limited. In the present study, we use a combination of discrete sampling and under-way (semi-continuous) flow-through sampling to better constrain estimates of phytoplankton abundance and to better identify the presence, shape, and locations of fine-scale water quality features (boundaries of abrupt change) in a case study set in Florida Bay, USA. We show that phytoplankton abundance is best estimated using a combination of discrete and underway sampling involving simultaneous collection of not only chlorophyll fluorescence but also potential interference materials such as colored dissolved organic matter. Finally, we show that water quality boundaries identified on the basis of underway sampling differ from discretely identified boundaries and are related to climatic variability as well as specific landscape features. These findings have significant implications for algal bloom detection, watershed management, and environmental monitoring both for our case study location and for estuaries in general.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.31223/X54S8M

Subjects

Biogeochemistry, Environmental Monitoring, Fresh Water Studies, Oceanography, Water Resource Management

Keywords

chlorophyll, florida bay, water quality, everglades

Dates

Published: 2022-08-06 09:21

Last Updated: 2022-08-06 16:21

License

CC BY Attribution 4.0 International