Quantification of extensive freshwater input to estuarine benthos




Flint, R. Warren, 1946-
Kalke, Richard D.
Rabalais, Steven C.

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During a 24 hr period beginning with the evening of 18 September 1979 an extensive low pressure system engulfed the south Texas coast. The weather system impacted the Corpus Christi Bay area with tropical storm intensity rains that reached as much as a 33 cm accumulation before the storm ended (NOAA, U.S. Weather Bureau, Corpus Christi, Texas, personal communication). The results of this storm system produced excessive riverine input and local land runoff to Corpus Christi Bay. This storm event, with its associated high freshwater inflow to the estuarine ecosystem, proved to be a relatively unique event to the area. Freshwater inputs to this system had not occurred with such intensity since Hurricane Beulah in 1967 (Flint and Rabalais, 1981b). The availability of an historical benthic record stimulated interest in evaluating the effect of this storm event upon the ecosystem's productivity as characterized by the benthos. By continuing a study design after September 1979 similar to that used for the historical record, we hoped to document the changes that occurred in the benthic habitat and determine the effect of these changes on total ecosystem productivity, especially fishery yields