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Concept: Estuary


Water management that alters riverine ecosystem processes has strongly influenced deltas and the people who depend on them, but a full accounting of the trade-offs is still emerging. Using palaeoecological data, we document a surprising biogeochemical consequence of water management in the Colorado River basin. Complete allocation and consumptive use of the river’s flow has altered the downstream estuarine ecosystem, including the abundance and composition of the mollusc community, an important component in estuarine carbon cycling. In particular, population declines in the endemic Colorado delta clam, Mulinia coloradoensis, from 50–125 individuals m(-2) in the pre-dam era to three individuals m(-2) today, have likely resulted in a reduction, on the order of 5900-15 000 t C yr(-1) (4.1-10.6 mol C m(-2) yr(-1)), in the net carbon emissions associated with molluscs. Although this reduction is large within the estuarine system, it is small in comparison with annual global carbon emissions. Nonetheless, this finding highlights the need for further research into the effects of dams, diversions and reservoirs on the biogeochemistry of deltas and estuaries worldwide, underscoring a present need for integrated water and carbon planning.

Concepts: Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Water, River, Estuary, River delta, Colorado River, Mactridae


BACKGROUND: This article aims to discuss the incorporation of traditional time in the construction of a management scenario for pink shrimp in the Patos Lagoon estuary (RS), Brazil. To meet this objective, two procedures have been adopted; one at a conceptual level and another at a methodological level. At the conceptual level, the concept of traditional time as a form of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) was adopted. METHOD: At the methodological level, we conduct a wide literature review of the scientific knowledge (SK) that guides recommendations for pink shrimp management by restricting the fishing season in the Patos Lagoon estuary; in addition, we review the ethno-scientific literature which describes traditional calendars as a management base for artisanal fishers in the Patos Lagoon estuary. RESULTS: Results demonstrate that TEK and SK describe similar estuarine biological processes, but are incommensurable at a resource management level. On the other hand, the construction of a “management scenario” for pink shrimp is possible through the development of “criteria for hierarchies of validity” which arise from a productive dialog between SK and TEK. CONCLUSIONS: The commensurable and the incommensurable levels reveal different basis of time-space perceptions between traditional ecological knowledge and scientific knowledge. Despite incommensurability at the management level, it is possible to establish guidelines for the construction of “management scenarios” and to support a co-management process.

Concepts: Scientific method, Epistemology, Management, Estuary, Lagoon, Commensurability, Lagoa dos Patos


A general northward shift in marine species distributions has been observed in the western North Atlantic Ocean, which may have significant ecological consequences. Large coastal sharks can have wide migratory distributions but show fidelity to specific nursery habitats. Here we show evidence for nursery range expansion into Pamlico Sound, North Carolina by a marine apex predator, the Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas). Previous assessments have shown little to no use of estuarine North Carolina waters as nursery habitat by Bull Sharks from 1965-2011. Juvenile sharks were rarely captured in a fishery-independent gillnet survey conducted by the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) from 2003-2011, but were present every year from 2011-2016. Juvenile Bull Shark presence in the Sound was strongly related to early summer temperatures and late summer salinities, which have increased in the estuary over the 13 survey years, and further evidence for increasing water temperatures in Pamlico Sound was found in a 45-year data set for the NCDMF estuarine trawl survey. These results suggest that increasing water temperature and salinity have allowed Bull Sharks to expand their nursery habitat. This shift will have unknown, but potentially strong, impacts on both the local ecosystem and interactions with humans.

Concepts: Water, Atlantic Ocean, Baltic Sea, Estuary, Amazon River, Shark, Bull shark, Pamlico Sound


Every year, millions of pots and traps are lost in crustacean fisheries around the world. Derelict fishing gear has been found to produce several harmful environmental and ecological effects, however socioeconomic consequences have been investigated less frequently. We analyze the economic effects of a substantial derelict pot removal program in the largest estuary of the United States, the Chesapeake Bay. By combining spatially resolved data on derelict pot removals with commercial blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) harvests and effort, we show that removing 34,408 derelict pots led to significant gains in gear efficiency and an additional 13,504 MT in harvest valued at US $21.3 million-a 27% increase above that which would have occurred without removals. Model results are extended to a global analysis where it is seen that US $831 million in landings could be recovered annually by removing less than 10% of the derelict pots and traps from major crustacean fisheries. An unfortunate common pool externality, the degradation of marine environments is detrimental not only to marine organisms and biota, but also to those individuals and communities whose livelihoods and culture depend on profitable and sustainable marine resource use.

Concepts: United States, Estuary, Maryland, Blue crab, Crab, Callinectes, Chesapeake Bay, Portunidae


A monitoring survey was conducted from August 2011 to July 2016 of the spatiotemporal distribution in the 400 km2 area of the northern part of Tokyo Bay and in rivers flowing into it of radiocesium released from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident. The average inventory in the river mouth (10 km2) was 131 kBq⋅m-2 and 0.73 kBq⋅m-2 in the central bay (330 km2) as the decay corrected value on March 16, 2011. Most of the radiocesium that flowed into Tokyo Bay originated in the northeastern section of the Tokyo metropolitan area, where the highest precipitation zone of 137Cs in soil was almost the same level as that in Fukushima City, then flowed into and was deposited in the Old-Edogawa River estuary, deep in Tokyo Bay. The highest precipitation of radiocesium measured in the high contaminated zone was 460 kBq⋅m-2. The inventory in sediment off the estuary of Old-Edogawa was 20.1 kBq⋅m-2 in August 2011 immediately after the accident, but it increased to 104 kBq⋅m-2 in July 2016. However, the radiocesium diffused minimally in sediments in the central area of Tokyo Bay in the five years following the FDNPP accident. The flux of radiocesium off the estuary decreased slightly immediately after the accident and conformed almost exactly to the values predicted based on its radioactive decay. Contrarily, the inventory of radiocesium in the sediment has increased. It was estimated that of the 8.33 TBq precipitated from the atmosphere in the catchment regions of the rivers Edogawa and Old-Edogawa, 1.31 TBq migrated through rivers and was deposited in the sediments of the Old-Edogawa estuary by July 2016. Currently, 0.25 TBq⋅yr-1 of radiocesium continues to flow into the deep parts of Tokyo Bay.

Concepts: Sediment, River, Estuary, Stream, River delta, Gravel, Geomorphology, Tokyo


The age, total length (LT ), head shape and skull shape were investigated for 379 Japanese eels Anguilla japonica sampled in freshwater and brackish areas of the Kojima Bay-Asahi River system, Okayama, Japan, to learn about the differentiation process of head-shape polymorphism. The relative mouth width (ratio of mouth width to LT ) of A. japonica > 400 mm LT collected in fresh water was significantly greater than that of fish collected in brackish water. Growth rates of mouth width and the distance from the snout to the midpoint of the eyes (the ratio of width and distance to age, respectively) were not significantly different between freshwater and brackish-water samples, whereas the somatic growth rate (the ratio of LT to age) of freshwater samples was significantly lower than that of brackish-water eel samples. These results suggest that the factors affecting head and somatic growth of A. japonica are not identical. According to these results and feeding patterns in each habitat reported by another study, it is suggested that somatic growth appears to play a significant role in the differentiation process of the head-shape polymorphism in A. japonica, with the slow-growing fish in fresh water becoming broad-headed and the fast-growing fish in brackish water becoming narrow-headed.

Concepts: Ratio, River, Estuary, Amazon River, Eel, Japanese eel, Length, Aquatic ecology


The predatory Bacteriovorax are Gram-negative bacteria ubiquitous in saltwater systems that prey upon other Gram-negative bacteria in a similar manner to the related genus Bdellovibrio. Among the phylogenetically defined clusters of Bacteriovorax, cluster V has only been isolated from estuaries suggesting that it may be a distinct estuarine phylotype. To assess this hypothesis, the spatial and temporal distribution of cluster V and other Bacteriovorax phylogenetic assemblages along the salinity gradient of Chesapeake Bay were determined. Cluster V was expected to be found in significantly greater numbers in low to moderate salinity waters compared to high salinity areas. The analyses of water and sediment samples from sites in the bay revealed cluster V to be present at the lower salinity and not high salinity sites, consistent with it being an estuarine phylotype. Cluster IV had a similar distribution pattern and may also be specifically adapted to estuaries. While the distribution of clusters V and IV were similar for salinity, they were distinct on temperature gradients, being found in cooler and in warmer temperatures, respectively. The differentiation of phylotype populations along the salinity and temporal gradients in Chesapeake Bay revealed distinct niches inhabited by different phylotypes of Bacteriovorax and unique estuarine phylotypes.

Concepts: Water, Gradient, Estuary, Partial derivative, Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation, Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, Ria


The Tubarão River rises in Santa Catarina, Brazil, and has been historically affected by coal mining activities around its springhead. To evaluate its water conditions, an investigation regarding a possible decontamination gradient associated with the increased river flow toward the estuary, as well as the influence of seasonality over this gradient was performed through a series of biomarkers (vitellogenin, comet assay, lipid peroxidation, protein carbonylation, gluthatione, gluthatione S-transferase, acetylcholinesterase, light microscopy in liver, and scanning electron microscopy in gills) and chemical analysis (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in bile and metal analysis in sediment) in the cichlid Geophagus brasiliensis. Two collections (summer and winter) were made in four distinct sites along the river, while sediments were sampled between those seasons. As expected, the contamination linked exclusively to mining activities was not observed, possibly due to punctual inputs of contaminants. The decontamination gradient was not observed, although seasonality seemed to have a critical role in the responses of biomarkers and availability of contaminants. In the summer, the fish presented higher histopathological damages and lower concentrations of PAHs, while in the winter they showed both higher genetic damage and accumulation of PAHs. The Tubarão suffers impacts from diverse activities, representing health risks for wild and human populations.

Concepts: Electron, Water, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, River, Estuary, Scanning electron microscope, Aromaticity, Naphthalene


Chemical contaminants can be introduced into estuarine and marine ecosystems from a variety of sources including wastewater, agriculture and forestry practices, point and non-point discharges, runoff from industrial, municipal, and urban lands, accidental spills, and atmospheric deposition. The diversity of potential sources contributes to the likelihood of contaminated marine waters and sediments and increases the probability of uptake by marine organisms. Despite widespread recognition of direct and indirect pathways for contaminant deposition and organismal exposure in coastal systems, spatial and temporal variability in contaminant composition, deposition, and uptake patterns are still poorly known. We investigated these patterns for a suite of persistent legacy contaminants including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and chemicals of emerging concern including pharmaceuticals within two Oregon coastal estuaries (Coos and Netarts Bays). In the more urbanized Coos Bay, native Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida) tissue had approximately twice the number of PCB congeners at over seven times the total concentration, yet fewer PBDEs at one-tenth the concentration as compared to the more rural Netarts Bay. Different pharmaceutical suites were detected during each sampling season. Variability in contaminant types and concentrations across seasons and between species and media (organisms versus sediment) indicates the limitation of using indicator species and/or sampling annually to determine contaminant loads at a site or for specific species. The results indicate the prevalence of legacy contaminants and CECs in relatively undeveloped coastal environments highlighting the need to improve policy and management actions to reduce contaminant releases into estuarine and marine waters and to deal with legacy compounds that remain long after prohibition of use. Our results point to the need for better understanding of the ecological and human health risks of exposure to the diverse cocktail of pollutants and harmful compounds that will continue to leach from estuarine sediments over time.

Concepts: Water, Oyster, Estuary, Polychlorinated biphenyl, PCB Congener List, Biphenyl, Chesapeake Bay, Olympia oyster


The Asia’s largest lagoon, Chilika, is a shallow water estuary and a designated “Ramsar” site located in the east coast of India. The spatiotemporal diversity of phytoplankton based on the monthly sampling between July 2011 and June 2012 was investigated in relation to physicochemical variables of the surface water column from 13 stations. The salinity was minimum (average 9) during the monsoon which was primarily due to riverine discharge. As the season progressed towards post-monsoon, average salinity of the whole lagoon reached to 10 which further increased to 20 during pre-monsoon season. A total of 259 species of phytoplankton, mostly dominated by the Bacillariophyta (138 species) followed by Dinophyta (38 species), Chlorophyta (32 species), Cyanophyta (29 species), Euglenophyta (18 species), and Chrysophyta (4 species), were recorded in this study. Different ecological sectors of the lagoon (except the northern sector) were dominated by diatoms, while the northern sector due to its freshwater regime supported large population of euglenoids. Based on the multivariate ordination analysis, salinity regime and light availability played important role in determining the distribution, diversity, and composition of phytoplankton communities. Overall, this study documented a very high diversity of phytoplankton and highlighted the importance of taking extensive sampling in getting a clearer understanding of phytoplankton community structure in less-studied environments such as Chilika lagoon.

Concepts: Algae, Biodiversity, Water, India, Estuary, Diatom, Lagoon, Brackish water