Novel analyses of long-term data provide a scientific basis for chlorophyll-a thresholds in San Francisco Bay

Novel analyses of long-term data provide a scientific basis for chlorophyll-a thresholds in San... San Francisco Bay (SFB), USA, is highly enriched in nitrogen and phosphorus, but has been resistant to the classic symptoms of eutrophication associated with over-production of phytoplankton. Observations in recent years suggest that this resistance may be weakening, shown by: significant increases of chlorophyll-a (chl-a) and decreases of dissolved oxygen (DO), common occurrences of phytoplankton taxa that can form Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB), and algal toxins in water and mussels reaching levels of concern. As a result, managers now ask: what levels of chl-a in SFB constitute tipping points of phytoplankton biomass beyond which water quality will become degraded, requiring significant nutrient reductions to avoid impairments? We analyzed data for DO, phytoplankton species composition, chl-a, and algal toxins to derive quantitative relationships between three indicators (HAB abundance, toxin concentrations, DO) and chl-a. Quantile regressions relating HAB abundance and DO to chl-a were significant, indicating SFB is at increased risk of adverse HAB and low DO levels if chl-a continues to increase. Conditional probability analysis (CPA) showed chl-a of 13 mg m−3 as a “protective” threshold below which probabilities for exceeding alert levels for HAB abundance and toxins were reduced. This threshold was similar to chl-a of 13–16 mg m−3 that would meet a SFB-wide 80% saturation Water Quality Criterion (WQC) for DO. Higher “at risk” chl-a thresholds from 25 to 40 mg m−3 corresponded to 0.5 probability of exceeding alert levels for HAB abundance, and for DO below a WQC of 5.0 mg L−1 designated for lower South Bay (LSB) and South Bay (SB). We submit these thresholds as a basis to assess eutrophication status of SFB and to inform nutrient management actions. This approach is transferrable to other estuaries to derive chl-a thresholds protective against eutrophication. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science Elsevier

Novel analyses of long-term data provide a scientific basis for chlorophyll-a thresholds in San Francisco Bay

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Publisher
Elsevier
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd
ISSN
0272-7714
eISSN
1096-0015
D.O.I.
10.1016/j.ecss.2017.07.009
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

San Francisco Bay (SFB), USA, is highly enriched in nitrogen and phosphorus, but has been resistant to the classic symptoms of eutrophication associated with over-production of phytoplankton. Observations in recent years suggest that this resistance may be weakening, shown by: significant increases of chlorophyll-a (chl-a) and decreases of dissolved oxygen (DO), common occurrences of phytoplankton taxa that can form Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB), and algal toxins in water and mussels reaching levels of concern. As a result, managers now ask: what levels of chl-a in SFB constitute tipping points of phytoplankton biomass beyond which water quality will become degraded, requiring significant nutrient reductions to avoid impairments? We analyzed data for DO, phytoplankton species composition, chl-a, and algal toxins to derive quantitative relationships between three indicators (HAB abundance, toxin concentrations, DO) and chl-a. Quantile regressions relating HAB abundance and DO to chl-a were significant, indicating SFB is at increased risk of adverse HAB and low DO levels if chl-a continues to increase. Conditional probability analysis (CPA) showed chl-a of 13 mg m−3 as a “protective” threshold below which probabilities for exceeding alert levels for HAB abundance and toxins were reduced. This threshold was similar to chl-a of 13–16 mg m−3 that would meet a SFB-wide 80% saturation Water Quality Criterion (WQC) for DO. Higher “at risk” chl-a thresholds from 25 to 40 mg m−3 corresponded to 0.5 probability of exceeding alert levels for HAB abundance, and for DO below a WQC of 5.0 mg L−1 designated for lower South Bay (LSB) and South Bay (SB). We submit these thresholds as a basis to assess eutrophication status of SFB and to inform nutrient management actions. This approach is transferrable to other estuaries to derive chl-a thresholds protective against eutrophication.

Journal

Estuarine Coastal and Shelf ScienceElsevier

Published: Oct 15, 2017

References

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