, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 115–127 | Cite as

Analysis of the abundance of submersed aquatic vegetation communities in the Chesapeake Bay

  • Kenneth A. Moore
  • David J. Wilcox
  • Robert J. Orth


A procedure was developed using aboveground field biomass measurements of Chesapeake Bay submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV), yearly species identification surveys, annual photographic mapping at 1∶24,000 scale, and geographic information system (GIS) analyses to determine the SAV community type, biomass, and area of each mapped SAV bed in the bay and its tidal tributaries for the period of 1985 through 1996. Using species identifications provided through over 10,000 SAV ground survey observations, the 17 most abundant SAV species found in the bay were clustered into four species associations: ZOSTERA, RUPPIA, POTAMOGETON, and FRESHWATER MIXED. Monthly aboveground biomass values were then assigned to each bed or bed section based upon monthly biomass models developed for each community. High salinity communities (ZOSTERA) were found to dominate total bay SAV aboveground biomass during winter, spring, and summer. Lower salinity communities (RUPPIA, POTAMOGETON, and FRESHWATER MIXED) dominated in the fall. In 1996, total bay SAV standing stock was nearly 22,800 metric tons at annual maximum biomass in July encompassing an area of approximately 25,670 hectares. Minimum biomass in December and January of that year was less than 5,000 metric tons. SAV annual maximum biomass increased baywide from lows of less than 15,000 metric tons in 1985 and 1986 to nearly 25,000 metric tons during the 1991 to 1993 period, while area increased from approximately 20,000 to nearly 30,000 hectares during that same period. Year-to-year comparisons of maximum annual community abundance from 1985 to 1996 indicated that regrowth of SAV in the Chesapeake Bay from 1985–1993 occurred principally in the ZOSTERA community, with 85% of the baywide increase in biomass and 71% of the increase in are a occurring in that community. Maximum biomass of FRESHWATER MIXED SAV beds also increased from a low of 3,200 metric tons in 1985 to a high of 6,650 metric tons in 1993, while maximum biomass of both RUPPIA and POTAMOGETON beds fluctuated between 2,450 and 4,600 metric tons and 60 and 600 metric tons, respectively, during that same period with net declines of 7% and 43%, respectively, between 1985 and 1996. During the July period of annual, baywide, maximum SAV biomass, SAV beds in the Chesapeake Bay typically averaged approximately 0.86 metric tons of aboveground dry mass per hectare of bed area.


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Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth A. Moore
    • 1
  • David J. Wilcox
    • 1
  • Robert J. Orth
    • 1
  1. 1.The Virginia Institute of Marine Science School of Marine ScienceCollege of William and MaryGloucester Point

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