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Florida Coastal Water Quality Assessment and Integration Project

The Florida Coastal Water Quality Assessment and Integration project will develop a statewide data collection and dissemination framework for the aquatic preserve (AP) system, making it consistent with the National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERR) nationwide system. The project will evaluate historical estuarine water quality data from 28 monitoring stations managed by the Aquatic Preserves offices around the state:

  • Northwest Florida Aquatic Preserves (1 station)
  • Central Panhandle Aquatic Preserves (3 stations)
  • Big Bend Seagrasses and Saint Martin’s Marsh Aquatic Preserves (8 stations)
  • Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserves (2 stations)
  • Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves (3 stations)
  • Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve (3 stations)
  • Northeast Aquatic Preserves (4 stations)
  • East Central Aquatic Preserves (4 stations)

These AP offices have been collecting near continuous (15 minute) water quality data since 2004.

By adopting NERRS monitoring protocols and database management techniques, the existing AP water quality stations will seamlessly combine with the NERRS water quality, enabling the AP monitoring program to contribute to important national and regional initiatives.

AP continuous water quality data will be incorporated into the Statewide Ecosystem Assessment of Coastal and Aquatic Resources (SEACAR) to assess statuses and trends of coastal resources, to support state and local programs, planning and decision-making. The data will be available through publicly accessible web-based applications where they can be used for management planning, restoration activities and support of continued federal consistency through the regulatory process.

Special thanks to our partners that provided letters of collaboration for this project:

  • Centralized Data Management Office
  • Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program
  • Gulf of Mexico Alliance
  • Ocean Conservancy
  • Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation
  • Tampa Bay Estuary Program

Historical Oyster Body Size Project

The Historical Oyster Body Size (HOBS) project is an ongoing effort to increase the available historical data on oyster body size in Florida using samples of buried, dead oyster shells collected from 11 areas around the state. The project grew out of a recognition that, although oyster body size is currently recognized as an important indicator of oyster population condition, many oyster monitoring programs in Florida did not start collecting oyster body size data until the past decade or two, making long-term historical records for this indicator uncommon. Dead, buried oyster shells form the internal matrix of living oyster reefs and are the remains of oysters that lived on the reef decades to centuries in the past. This buried record of dead shell can offer a window into the range of body sizes present on the reef in the past, even in locations where no historical monitoring records exist.

To build body size baselines from the dead oyster shells, Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection (RCP) scientists and partners from the Paleontological Research Institution collected samples from hand-cores on more than 30 oyster reefs around the state, including two stratigraphic depth intervals — representing two different time periods — for each core. These samples were processed, and all complete oyster left valves larger than 20mm in shell height were measured (over 20,000 shells in total). Each measured shell was assigned a number and all samples were curated and deposited into the research collection at the Paleontological Research Institution where they are available for further study. Currently, analysis of the body size data has begun, and we are conducting geochronological analyses (i.e., conducting age-dating, such as radiocarbon analysis) of a subset of the measured oyster shells from each reef in order to understand the time period represented by the body size baselines we have produced. A report detailing the findings of the HOBS Project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. The data and all findings from the project will be integrated with the oyster habitat statuses and trends analyses for SEACAR, as well as products such as the online database, web portal and reports.

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Last Modified:
August 15, 2019 - 1:09pm

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