Biological assessment of water circulation changes in the Laguna Madre resulting from modifications of the John F. Kennedy Causeway




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The ecology of the upper Laguna Madre has undergone change during the past 50 years as a result of variations in climatic cycles and major engineering projects such as the construction of the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway and the Kennedy Causeway. Unfortunately, many of the changes are not well documented and specific details of prior conditions are not available. Review of scientific data collected in upper Laguna Madre during the past 40 years, especially since 1970, provides some understanding of the recent conditions of the water, plankton, fishes, benthic organisms, seagrasses and sediments. There are few direct measurements of physical or biological parameters that document good or bad changes in the biological ecosystem. Analyses of scientific results from other estuarine and lagoonal ecosystems have been used to characterize probable interrelationships between water circulation and critical biological populations in the upper Laguna Madre in the vicinity of the Kennedy Causeway. The biological consequences of enhanced water circulation have therefore been derived from water current measurements and mathematical model simulations combined with the biological characterizations. The engineering design of the elevated Kennedy Causeway will promote biological changes to the extent that water circulation and transport in both directions is increased.
Prepared for Shiner, Moseley and Associates, Inc. ...
September 1995