, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 187–199 | Cite as

Refining habitat requirements of submersed aquatic vegetation: Role of optical models

  • Charles L. Gallegos


A model of the spectral diffuse attenuation coefficient of downwelling irradiance was constructed for Chincoteague Bay, Maryland, and the Rhode River, Maryland. The model is written in terms of absorption spectra of dissolved yellow substance, the chlorophyll-specific absorption of phytoplankton, and absorption and scattering by particulate matter (expressed as turbidity). Based on published light requirements for submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) in Chesapeake Bay, the model is used to calculate the range of water-quality conditions that permit survival of SAV at various depths. Because the model is spectrally based, it can be used to calculate the attenuation of either photosynthetically active radiation (PAR, equally weighted quanta from 400 nm to 700 nm) or photosyntheticallyusable radiation (PUR, the integral of the quantum spectrum weighted by the pigment absorption spectrum of SAV). PUR is a more accurate measurement of light that can be absorbed by SAV and it is more strongly affected by phytoplankton chlorophyll in the water column than is PAR. For estuaries in which light attenuation is dominated by turbidity and chlorophyll, the model delimits regions in which turbidity alone (chlorophyll <10 μg 1−1), chlorophyll alone (turbidity <1 NTU) or both factors (chlorophyll >10 μg 1−1, turbidity >1 NTU) must be reduced to improve survival depths for SAV.


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Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles L. Gallegos
    • 1
  1. 1.Smithsonian Environmental Research CenterEdgewater

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