Environmental Monotoring and Assessment Program: Current Status of Virginian Province (U.S.) Estuaries

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Monitoring of indicators of the ecological condition of bays, tidal rivers, and estuaries within the Virginian Biogeographic Province (Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Cape Henry, Virginia) was conducted annually by the U.S. EPA's Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) during the summer months of 1990 to 1993. Data were collected at 425 probability-based stations within the Province. Indicators monitored included water quality (temperature, salinity, water clarity, and dissolved oxygen concentration), sediment contamination, sediment toxicity, benthic community structure, fish community structure, and fish gross external pathology. Data were used to estimate the current status of the ecological condition of Virginian Province estuarine resources, and provide a baseline for identifying possible future changes. Estimates, with 95% confidence limits, of the areal extent of impacted resources within the Province are provided. Data are also presented by estuarine class (large estuaries, small estuarine systems, and large tidal rivers). Results show that, overall, approximately half of the estuarine waters of the Virginian Province can be classified as impacted based on multiple indicators, with hypoxia being the major stressor.

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