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Document Type

Book Chapter


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Paula Hill and Steve Nelson, editors

Publication Date


Book Title

Toward a Sustainable Coastal Watershed: The Chesapeake Experiment. Proceedings of a Conference 1-3 June 1994. Norfolk, VA


Chesapeake Research Consortium


Edgewater, MD


Chesapeake Research Consortium Publication No. 149


The Goodwin Islands Ecosystem is a National Estuarine Research Reserve location and consisting of about 200 ha of intertidal mudflat and marshes surrounded by about 600 ha of vegetated and nonvegetated subtidal habitats extending to the -2.0 m depth contour. It is hypothesized that vegetated subtidal and intertidal habitats are seasonal sources of oxygen and fixed carbon and sinks for inorganic nutrients while sediments represent longer- term carbon storage for the ecosystem as a whole. This study focuses upon subtidal sediment microalgal distribution and biomass, sediment organic and inorganic content, and sediment/water oxygen and nutrient exchange processes in vegetated and nonvegetated habitats. Sediments and microalgae are sampled according to a stratified randomized design and flux measurements are performed on large, intact sediment/water cores. Preliminary analysis of sediment characteristics and microalgal biomass shows great spatial variability over the subtidal environment and seasonal flux studies have supported the source/sink hypothesis. Nonvegetated subtidal habitats appear to contain sufficient sediment microalgal biomass to maintain autotrophic status throughout much of the year. Sampling of subtidal and intertidal sediment characteristics and microalgal biomass will continue during 1994. The results of this study will be compared to simulated sediment stocks and processes derived from a dynamic spatial model of ecosystem primary production being developed for the Goodwin Islands ecosystem.

Sediment Characteristics And Inorganic Fluxes Associated With Vegetated And Nonvegetated Subtidal Habitats Of The Goodwin Islands, Virginia