- A case history of ambient status and trends monitoring is presented for the South Slough estuary (southern Oregon). Datasets collected over the past decade by the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve / System-Wide Monitoring program (SWMP) include real-time measurements (every 5 min) of several meteorological parameters (air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed & direction, barometric pressure, precipitation, solar radiation), near real-time measurements (every 30 min) of water parameters (depth, temperature, conductivity, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, fluorescence), and monthly measurements of estuarine nutrients (nitrate, nitrite, ammonium, phosphate, chlorophyll a, phaeopigments).
Measurements collected by the SWMP are compiled to address the primary question: “to what extent are chlorophyll levels and nutrient dynamics within the South Slough estuary driven by oceanic forcing and seasonal upwelling events versus watershed inputs?” Real-time data collection activities are carried out within the South Slough estuary in cooperation with the US Integrated Coastal Ocean Observing System (ICOOS) and the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS). Datasets generated by the South Slough SWMP are archived and displayed on a website managed by the NERR Centralized Data Management Office (CDMO), and they are handled locally by incorporation into a common integrated EQWin relational database. The South Slough NERR has also developed protocols for biomonitoring of salt marshes, eelgrass beds, and estuarine non-indigenous species, and maintains a long-term program for monitoring the effectiveness of tidal habitat restoration projects.
estuary researchFuture monitoring efforts will focus on data acquisition and modeling to address the question: “how well does the South Slough serve as a small-scale model for understanding the greater Coos estuary?” This new initiative will capitalize on the datastreams generated by the existing array of SWMP monitoring stations and add them to information generated by several new stations. Finally, it should be emphasized that question-based estuarine monitoring is an important element of the emerging effort to adopt an ecosystem-based approach to coastal management, and that the cooperative work carried out by federal and state agencies, academic scientists, ICOOS and NANOOS provide a timely opportunity to monitor, investigate and understand the physical and biotic connectivity between the nearshore, estuarine, and watershed elements of the Pacific northwest land-margin ecosystem.