Sediment, Water Level and Water Temperature Characteristics of Florida Bay's Grass-Covered Mud Banks
Abstract:Florida Bay is a shallow lagoonal estuary divided into basins by a latticework of mud banks, which exert a disproportionate influence on the bay ecosystem. Prevailing northeasterly winds resulted in distinct sheltered and exposed sides on narrow banks, the former with fine sediment and a high organic content and the high energy exposed sides with coarser sediment and low organic content. Bank water levels were highest in fall. Lunar tidal flux appeared to be directly related to the degree of access to open ocean for any given site. Water levels also demonstrated some degree of wind-dependency at all sites. Although water levels on narrow banks were highly correlated with those of basins, one 2-km-wide bank retained a lens of water at low tide despite lower levels in adjacent basins. Bank temperatures ranged from 7.5°C to 37.0°C and demonstrated a mean daily range of 4.5°C, but up to 15°C, in contrast to basin ranges of 1–2°C. Temperature range was a function of air temperature range and water level. September through November was the most benign period on the banks. A bank in the northeastern bay was the physically severest of our six study sites. We discuss implications of the physical scenario for bank organisms; in general, banks should represent a more stressful habitat than deeper grassbeds.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 1989
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