Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Evaluation in Currituck Sound (SAVE Currituck Sound)

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) provides an important estuarine habitat for fish and other species, making habitat preservation of SAV a priority for the State of North Carolina (Coastal Habitat Protection Plan, 2016), but knowledge of the distribution dynamics and drivers of change is limited in some areas, such as oligohaline waters (i.e., low salinity, <5 ppt). NCDOT has recently applied wave attenuation in polyhaline (i.e., salinity of 18-30ppt), patchy SAV habitats as a mitigation strategy to facilitate the coalescence of seagrass patches by colonization of gaps, producing new and permanent seagrass acreage. While it is expected that oligohaline SAV communities may respond similarly (i.e., increased cover with decreased wave energy), little has been done to document the fidelity of the SAV response to waves in oligohaline waters, nor has the anticipated response been applied to mitigation needs (Kautsky, 1988; Keddy 1982, Koch, 2001). The researchers propose to examine oligohaline SAV spatial and temporal dynamics in response to wave exposure and water clarity in oligohaline waters and evaluate how the life history strategy of key SAV species influences that response. They will study biological, chemical, and physical parameters influencing the presence and abundance of SAV in Currituck Sound to better inform potential mitigation strategies related to SAV impacts associated with coastal bridge projects. This project has two primary objectives relevant to understanding SAV growth and distribution changes: 1) evaluate current and historic change of SAV distribution in two focus areas of Currituck Sound; and 2) relate SAV distribution to water-column and substrate parameters and physical processes (e.g., waves, salinity, turbidity etc.). Capitalizing on a strong partnership with the USACE-ERDC's Field Research Facility (FRF) and Mark Fonseca at CSA Ocean Sciences, Inc., the researchers will use meteorological and water column data from the recently installed observing platforms in Currituck Sound to provide critical information on variability of physical drivers that may influence SAV growth. Understanding the variability of the physical setting is important for evaluating changes in SAV distribution strategies by which native and dominant species maintain their populations in the sound.


    • Status: Active
    • Sponsor Organizations:

      North Carolina Department of Transportation

      104 Fayettville Street
      Raleigh, NC  United States  27601
    • Project Managers:

      Kirby, John

    • Performing Organizations:

      East Carolina University, Greenville

      Department of Technology Systems
      Greenville, NC  United States  27858
    • Principal Investigators:

      Corbett, D

    • Start Date: 20170701
    • Expected Completion Date: 20180630
    • Actual Completion Date: 0

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01643927
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: North Carolina Department of Transportation
    • Files: RiP, STATEDOT
    • Created Date: Aug 22 2017 2:25PM