Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 1–19 | Cite as

Salinity and Chlorophyll a as Performance Measures to Rehabilitate a Mangrove-Dominated Deltaic Coastal Region: the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta–Pajarales Lagoon Complex, Colombia

  • Victor H. Rivera-Monroy
  • Robert R. Twilley
  • J. Ernesto Mancera-Pineda
  • Christopher J. Madden
  • Ariel Alcantara-Eguren
  • E. Barry Moser
  • Bror F. Jonsson
  • Edward Castañeda-Moya
  • Oscar Casas-Monroy
  • Paola Reyes-Forero
  • Jorge Restrepo


Salinity, water temperature, and chlorophyll a (chl-a) biomass were used as performance measures in the period 1999–2001 to evaluate the effect of a hydrological rehabilitation project in the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta (CGSM)–Pajarales lagoon complex, Colombia where freshwater diversions were initiated in 1995 and completed in 1998. The objective of this study was to evaluate how diversions of freshwater into previously hypersaline (>80) environments changed the spatial and temporal distribution of environmental characteristics. Following the diversion, 19 surveys and transects using a flow-through system were surveyed in the CGSM–Pajarales complex to continuously measure selected water quality parameters. Geostatistical analysis indicates that hydrology and salinity regimes and water circulation patterns in the CGSM lagoon are largely controlled by freshwater discharge from the Fundacion, Aracataca, and Sevilla Rivers. Residence times in the CGSM lagoon were similar before (15.5 ± 3.8 days) and after (14.2 ± 2.0 days) the rehabilitation project and indicated that the system is flushed regularly. In contrast, chl-a biomass was highly variable in the CGSM–Pajarales lagoon complex and not related to discharge patterns. Mean annual chl-a biomass (44–250 μg L−1) following the diversion project was similar to values recorded since the 1980s and still remains among the highest reported in coastal systems around the world owing to its unique hydrology regulated by the Magdalena River and Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta watersheds and the high teleconnection to the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Our results confirm that the reduction in salinity in the CGSM lagoon and Pajarales complex during 1999–2000 was largely driven by high precipitation (2500 mm) induced by the ENSO–La Niña rather than by the freshwater diversions.


Geostatistics Salinity gradient Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta Colombia Caribbean coast Chlorophyll a gradient Eutrophication LOICZ 



This work was supported by funding from the Instituto Colombiano para el Desarrollo de la Ciencia y la Tecnología (COLCIENCIAS; Code No. 2105-13-080-97) and the Ministerio del Medio Ambiente Vivienda y Desarrollo Territorial (MAVDT). The preparation of the manuscript was partially supported by supplemental funds from the FCE-LTER program (funded by the National Science Foundation, Grants #DBI-0620409 and #DEB-9910514) as part of the FCE-LTER Caribbean initiative. We thank the following institutions for their logistical support and for sharing resources to accomplish this project: Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (INVEMAR), CORPAMAG, Proyecto Colombo-Alemán de la GTZ, Centro de Investigaciones Oceanográficas e Hidrográficas (CIOH), Universidad del Magdalena, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, and Universidad Javeriana. We wish to thank Felix Daza Monroy, Alfonso Vidal, Walberto Troncoso, Diana Fonseca, Federico Newmark, Hernando Sanchez, Efrain Viloria, Yimy Herrera, Elisabeth Campos, Francisco Pinto, and a number of students for their help in performing field surveys and laboratory analyses. Special thanks to Leonor Botero (Universidad de La Sabana) for her critical role in securing initial funding to implement this project and to Carlos Carbonó, Edgar Cabas, and people from the towns of Tasajera, Pueblo Viejo, Isla del Rosario, Palmira, Bocas de Cataca, Buena Vista, El Morro, and El Clarín for their invaluable collaboration to accomplish our field program. This article was greatly enhanced by the critical reviews of three anonymous reviewers. This work is dedicated to the memory of E. Barry Moser, dear friend and mentor.

Supplementary material

12237_2010_9353_MOESM1_ESM.doc (352 kb)
Table Supplemental Material Statistics, model parameters, and goodness of fit criteria of geostatistical models fitted to temperature in 1999–2001 (St Dev standard deviation, Co nugget variance, C+ Co model variance or sill; C/C = Co structural to model variance ratio). Range parameter (A o ) is a distance (kilometers) where variogram stops increasing. NS no spatial autocorrelation. (DOC 351 kb)


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victor H. Rivera-Monroy
    • 1
  • Robert R. Twilley
    • 1
  • J. Ernesto Mancera-Pineda
    • 2
    • 3
  • Christopher J. Madden
    • 4
  • Ariel Alcantara-Eguren
    • 5
  • E. Barry Moser
    • 6
  • Bror F. Jonsson
    • 7
  • Edward Castañeda-Moya
    • 1
  • Oscar Casas-Monroy
    • 8
  • Paola Reyes-Forero
    • 8
  • Jorge Restrepo
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, School of the Coast and EnvironmentLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede CaribeSan Andres IslaColombia
  3. 3.Departamento de BiologíaSede BogotáBogotá, D.C.Colombia
  4. 4.Everglades Research DivisionSouth Florida Water Management DistrictWest Palm BeachUSA
  5. 5.Departamento de Ciencias e IngenieriasUniversidad Iberoamericana—PueblaPueblaMexico
  6. 6.Department of Experimental StatisticsLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  7. 7.Department of Meteorology/OceanographyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  8. 8.Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (INVEMAR)Santa MartaColombia

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