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National Park Service: Inventory & Monitoring Vital Signs Monitoring: Marine Water Quality Program

Sponsoring Organization:  National Park Service: Southeast Coast Network (SECN)

Acronym:  NPS MWQP

Description:  Estuaries are semi-enclosed coastal bodies of water that have free connection with the open sea and within which sea water mixes with fresh water. The key feature of an estuary is that it is an interface between sea water and fresh water and there is an influence of the ocean tide creating a dynamic relationship between the two waters. Estuaries contain critical habitat for a variety of fish, and wildlife species. They serve as nursery habitats for fish, crustaceans, and shellfish and foraging habitat for birds and mammals while providing a multitude of recreational opportunities including boating, fishing, and bird watching. These are fragile ecosystems vulnerable to impacts caused by development and use. Severe impacts including alterations to hydrodynamic processes, exposure to levels of chemical contaminants that cause mortality, altered growth, and reduced reproduction and exposure to more frequent and severe hypoxia can be seen in estuarine habitats from urban and industrial development (Lerberg et al. 2000). In addition, macrobenthic communities in impacted areas are characterized by low diversity, low numbers of rare and pollution sensitive species, and low macrobenthic abundances (Lerberg et al. 2000). In areas with increased impervious cover, stormwater runoff is flashy and greater then natural amounts of fresh and polluted waters are released into estuaries (Holland et al. 2004). The SECN monitoring design will include fixed site and probability-based sampling, described below.

Web Site:  http://science.nature.nps.gov/im/monitor/index.cfm

Duration:  01/01/2006 to present  (as of 03/23/2009)

Program Contact:  Christina Wright

Program Contact Email:  Christina_Wright@nps.gov

Program Purpose:  National Park managers across the country are confronted with increasingly complex and challenging issues that require a broad-based understanding of the status and trends of park resources as a basis for making decisions, and for working with other agencies and the public for the benefit of park resources. Natural resource monitoring offers site-specific information needed to understand and identify change in complex, variable, and imperfectly understood natural systems and to determine whether observed changes are within natural levels of variability or may be indicators of unwanted human influences. Thus, monitoring provides a basis for understanding and identifying meaningful change in natural systems. Monitoring data help to define the normal limits of natural variation in park resources

Data Access Policy:  Please contact directly for data access.

Sampling Design:  Fixed Site Following Protocols Developed by the National Estuarine Research Reserve Program. Datalogger (every hour): pH Dissolved Oxygen Temperature Salinity Turbidity Depth Monthly: Total Dissolved Nitrogen Total Dissolved Phosphorus Chlorophyll a Secchi Depth Probabilistic Surveys Following Protocols Developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency. CESU Agreement with UGA. 30 Randomly selected stations (5-year rotating basis) Hydrographic Profile (pH, DO, Temperature, Salinity) Secchi Depth Total Dissolved Nitrogen Total Dissolved Phosphorus Chlorophyll a Sediment Chemistry, Total Organic Carbon & Grain size ( every ten years)

Data Collection Area Description:  Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CAHA) Cape Lookout National Seashore (CALO) Cumberland Island National Seashore (CUIS) Canaveral National Seashore (CANA) Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve (TIMU) Fort Caroline National Monument (FOCA) Fort Pulaski National Monument (FOPU)

Monitoring Stations:  163 stations are registered in the database (search/display)

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