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Coastal Ecosystem Assessment of Chesapeake Bay Watersheds: Land Use Patterns and River Conditions
Author(s): Leight, A.; R. Trippe III; L. Gonsalves; J. Jacobs; S. McLaughlin; G. Messick
NCCOS Center: CCEHBR
Center Team: Oxford Laboratory
Publication Type: NOAA Technical Memoranda
Journal Title: NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 207
Date of Publication: 2015
Abstract: In coastal and estuarine regions, land use can have a profound impact on aquatic ecosystem health. In the Chesapeake Bay watershed, agriculture and urbanization have transformed major portions of the landscape, though a significant area remains relatively untouched. This document assesses the health of six Bay tributaries with different land use profiles via a suite of water quality and biological condition variables. Linkages are then explored between these scored variables and land use in the various watersheds.
Differences were detected between rivers related to land use that provide information to support decisions regarding the control of runoff from land into the Bay. Nutrients and suspended sediments were important stressors in the rivers examined, supporting current Bay-wide restoration efforts emphasizing reductions of these compounds. Preservation of habitat to support diverse and healthy fish populations, especially in spawning areas, was also supported. Our findings also suggest a need to develop better indicators to assess the impact of crab health on population sizes and the implications for managing harvest. Unexpectedly, stressors in the forested and mixed-use rivers indicated that conditions there were less pristine than predicted, and that these areas also require management to improve conditions.
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