Brown Tide Bloom Assessment Project in NJ Coastal Waters: 2000-2002

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Brown Tide Bloom Assessment Project in NJ Coastal Waters: 2000-2002

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Title: Brown Tide Bloom Assessment Project in NJ Coastal Waters: 2000-2002
Author: Downes Gastrich, Mary; Lathrop, Richard; Haag, Scott; Weinstein, Michael P.; Danko, Michael; Caron, David A.; Shaffner, Rebecca
Abstract: Brown tide blooms, caused by the rapid growth of a minute alga, Aureococcus anophagefferens, caused the demise of the scallop industry in coastal bays of Long Island, NY, in the mid-1980s. These blooms were also suspected in Barnegat Bay, NJ, at the same time but were not confirmed until 1995. Because of limited data, and to determine whether these blooms were a threat to coastal waters in NJ, the Division of Science Research and Technology (DSRT) established the Brown Tide Assessment Project to assess brown tide blooms in Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor (BB/LEH) from 2000-2002 through 1) mapping the abundances of the brown tide using the Brown Tide Bloom Index; 2) assessing the relationship between the brown tide abundances and environmental factors (e.g., salinity, temperature, nitrogen species); and 3) analyzing of the risk of brown tide blooms to submerged aquatic vegetation communities. Brown tide abundances were detected at all stations; the most severe brown tide blooms (Category 3), as well as less severe (Category 2) blooms, recurred during each of the three years of sampling and covered significant geographic areas of the BB/LEH. While the highest abundances of brown tide are positively associated with warmer water temperatures and higher salinity, these factors are not sufficient to promote blooms. Extended drought conditions with corresponding low freshwater inputs and elevated bay water salinities occurred during this time, possibly contributing to these blooms. Abundances of brown tide in New Jersey coastal bays are high enough to cause potentially harmful effects on juvenile hard clams. Results of the analysis of the risk of brown tide blooms to submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) habitat indicated that 35% of the state’s SAV habitat in BB/LEH is at significant risk of negative impacts due to brown tide blooms. Over 70% of the state’s SAV habitat is located in BB/LEH. Graphic displays of the spatial patterns of the brown tide blooms and environmental factors can be viewed at: http://crssa.rutgers.edu/projects/btide/index.html.
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10929/68760
Date: 2003-10


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