EFFECT OF SALINITY CHANGES ON THE MACROFAUNA SPECIES OF THE UPPER RINCON BAYOU, TX
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Decreased freshwater inflow due to damming of the Nueces and Frio Rivers has increased salinity in Nueces Bay, caused Rincon Bayou to become a reverse estuary, and disturbed the overall hydrology of Corpus Christi Bay. Adaptive management began in 1994 and continues today in an effort to restore historical hydrology. The objectives of this study are to determine to what extent salinity fluctuates within Rincon Bayou and what effects these fluctuations have on estuary health. Benthic macrofauna are ideal indicators of ecological effects because of their relative immobility and longevity in contrast with plankton of comparable size. Samples were collected from the upper Rincon Bayou near Corpus Christi, TX and analyzed alongside archived samples. One historical station was sampled biweekly. Conductivity, temperature, and salinity were monitored continuously. Additional water quality measurements were taken during sampling events. Macrofauna biomass, abundance, and diversity were measured. Large and haphazard salinity fluctuations resulted in a frequently disturbed system populated by pioneer species, such as Streblospio benedicti, during Mesohaline and Euhaline+Hyperhaline conditions. These results indicate that further changes need to be made to the Rincon Bayou restoration and management programs in order to reestablish a reasonably undisturbed ecosystem.
Herdener, Meredyth Elise (2015). EFFECT OF SALINITY CHANGES ON THE MACROFAUNA SPECIES OF THE UPPER RINCON BAYOU, TX. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from