Suitability of Using a Limited Number of Sampling Stations to Represent Benthic Habitats in Lavaca-Colorado Estuary, Tex
PAUL A. MONTAGNA, TERENCE A. PALMER, RICHARD D. KALKE, AND APRIL GOSSMANN
Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, Texas, USA
A common problem in environmental assessment is a lack of data at appropriate spatial and temporal scales. For example, imagine having long-term data from an adjacent area, but none in the assessment area. One approach to solving this dilemma is to identify the representativeness of the long-term study site. The purpose of the current study is to sample a salinity gradient over broad spatial scales in the Lavaca-Colorado Estuary to determine how well six long-term monitoring stations represent the spatial variability of benthic communities in order to assess the influence of the Colorado River. Samples were collected from 18 stations to measure benthic community structure as bioindicators, and hydrographic and sediment characteristics as environmental stressor indicators. In multivariate analysis, the macrobenthic communities separated into five groups, of which four were represented by long-term stations. These findings demonstrate that the long-term stations are representative of environmental change in proximity to the Colorado River mouth and temporal dynamics at the long-term stations are appropriate to use in inflow management studies.
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